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Boy Accidentally Discovers Million-Year-Old Fossil

Travis Ketzak
By Travis Ketzak / July 24, 2017

Jude Sparks, a 10-year-old boy, was hiking through New Mexico’s Organ Mountains with his family when he tripped over a rock. He soon realized, though, that it wasn’t a rock. It was an enormous fossil.

“I was running farther up and I tripped on part of the tusk. My face landed next to the bottom jaw. I look farther up and there was another tusk,” Jude told KVIA. “I told most of my friends. Most of them didn’t even believe me.”

The family, astonished, contacted Dr. Peter Houde, an expert in paleontology at New Mexico State University. He excitedly went to look at the find, and identified the fossil as the skull of a Stegomastodon, an ancient ancestor of the elephant, and determined that it is over a million years old.

“The skull that we found is one of the very best to have been found in New Mexico,” Peter said.

The owner of the land agreed to let them dig up the skull. Jude and his family even got to help. The excavated the skull, which was surprisingly intact, and brought it to New Mexico State University’s Vertebrate Museum for further examination.

Dr. Houde plans to put the skull on display for the public once his work on it is done. Maybe then Jude’s friends will believe him.