A group of men attending a bachelor party in New Mexico this week stumbled upon a mastodon skull that paleontologists say is over ten million years old.
The guys came across skull, complete with its tusks, buried in sand at Elephant Butte State Park, which is about 150 miles south of Albuquerque. They began digging at the earth until they realized what they were excavating. According to Reuters, the group then then contacted a professor at the University of New Mexico—an outlandishly responsible thing to do at a bachelor party—who in turn put them in touch with Gary Morgan, the curator and head paleontologist at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.
The fossil, which was buried in about four feet of lake silt, was excavated on Thursday by a team led by Morgan. The procedure took six hours, and the fossil was found to measure approximately 5 feet by 3 feet, weighing more than 1,000 pounds. Morgan told Reuters:
"This mastodon find is older than the woolly mammoth that tread the Earth in the Ice Age. ... It probably died on a sandbar of the ancient Rio Grande River. I've been here for 20 years and have never seen something like this before."
Museum officials praised the group for recognizing that they had found a valuable fossil and reaching out to the proper authorities. (And not destroying it.) Wedding guests praised the group for providing them with at least one thing to talk to acquaintances about during the reception.
[image via AP]