LAS CRUCES, N.M. — A boy’s misstep on a family hike in New Mexico has given the world a prehistoric wonder.
Ten-year-old Jude Sparks was on a desert hike in Las Cruces in November when he tripped over what turned out to be the fossilized tusk of a 1.2 million-year-old elephant-like creature, called a stegomastodon.
The family contacted New Mexico State University professor Peter Houde, and he and a team from the university spent a week digging up the skull in May after getting permission from the landowner.
Houde estimates the entire skull weighs about a ton.
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He expects the university to put the skull on exhibit after it’s studied and reconstructed, which could take years.