Boy trips into hole and finds fossilized skull 1.2 million years old

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A nine-year-old boy walking in a New Mexico desert stumbled upon a rare 1.2 million years old skull from a distant relative of the elephants.

Jude Sparks tripped over something sticking out of the ground, which his brother Hunter dismissed as a “big fat rotten cow”.

But Jude, now 10, said he “knew it wasn’t usual”, and it turned out to be a stegomastodon, an ancient, tusked mammal related to mammoths and elephants.

The brothers were exploring the desert in the Organ Mountains with their parents, who later contacted Professor Peter Houde at New Mexico State University.

They all returned to the site to find an entire skull that was as big as Jude.

A team from the university and volunteers then spent a week excavating the remains, which Professor Houde told National Geographic magazine were “eggshell thin”.

He hopes the fossil will eventually be available for public exhibit.

Experts believe the extinction of stegomastodons correlates to the arrival of mammoths as the global climate changed.

Another near intact stegomastodon fossil was found by a stag party in New Mexico in 2014, which is now in the state Natural History Museum.


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