Thursday, 19 June 2014

Bachelor Party Stumbles Upon Rare Mastodon Skull

By Kelly Dickerson, Staff Writer | June 18, 2014 09:53am ET

Elephant Butte Lake State Park in New Mexico is named for an elephant-shaped hill on the north side of the park, but now the name seems even more appropriate after a bachelor party hiking there discovered a 3-million-year-old stegomastodon skull — the prehistoric ancestor of mammoths and elephants.

Members of the bachelor party noticed a bone sticking a couple inches out of the sand by the Rio Grande River earlier this month, the Telegraph reported. The men dug up what turned out to be an enormous skull and sent photos to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. Paleontologists who arrived on the scene identified the remains as a stegomastodon skull. [See Photos of the Mastodon Skull from the Excavation]

Gary Morgan, paleontologist at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science who identified the skull, said it's not uncommon for hikers and other passersby to discover major fossils like this one in the park.

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