Some guys have trouble remembering just what happened during their bachelor party, but a group of men on a recent stag send-off in New Mexico aren’t likely to forget their celebration very soon — since they stumbled upon a perfectly preserved three-million-year-old mastodon skull.
The party was on a hike in Elephant Butte Lake State Park near Albuquerque when they saw a bone jutting one to two inches from the sand. They started digging and uncovered the enormous skull. Their first thought was it could be the remains of a woolly mammoth so they snapped photos and sent them to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.
Scientists there made the identification — it wasn’t a woolly mammoth, but, in fact, a much more exciting find. The skull belonged to a stegomastodon — a prehistoric ancestor of the woolly mammoth — as well as today’s elephants. The massive animal stood about 9 feet tall, weighed six tons and walked the Earth during the Ice Age, according to Gary Morgan, a paleontologist at the museum who analyzed the fossil. He estimates the animal was about 50 years old when it died on a sandbar of the ancient Rio Grande River.
The family of mastodons migrated to North America around 15 million years ago and died out around 10,000 years ago.
“This is far and away the best one we’ve ever found,” said Morgan about the bachelor party’s discovery.
Scientists, following up on the party’s tip, went to the site and sealed the skull, which weighed more than 1,000 pounds, in a cast. It was transported to the museum, where it will eventually will be placed on display.
Antonia Gradillas, 33, was among the men who made the original discovery. He said, “This is the coolest thing ever. Some people with PhDs in this field might not even have this kind of opportunity. We were so lucky.”
Thanks to Dr. Rajadhyaksha for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.