Bachelor party makes accidental discovery of three-million-year-old elephant skull
The skull (above) belong to a stegomastadon - a massive ancestor of the modern elephant that predated even the woolly mammoth
When Antonia Gradillas and his friends set off for a hike in New Mexico to celebrate a friend’s upcoming wedding they were probably expecting a certain amount of craziness – but certainly not the discovery of a three-million-year-old elephant skull.
The group chanced across the archaeological wonder in Elephant Butte Lake State Park 150 miles from the city of Albuquerque after seeing a tusk sticking out from the ground.
“As we were walking we saw a bone sticking out about one or two inches from the ground,” Gradillas, 33, told ABC news. He and his friends started digging and soon uncovered another tusk, then a row of teeth and a massive cranium
Gradillas suspected that the skull might belong to a woolly mammoth and called a friend who worked in a museum for more advice.
The pair then got in touch with Gary Morgan, a paleontologist with the nearby New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, who rushed to the scene the next day after seeing pictures of the find.
The friends and their find. Image Antonia Gradillas/KOB 4
Morgan announced that the skull belonged to a stegomastadon; a prehistoric ancestor of the modern elephant that predated the woolly mammoth and would have lived and roamed in the area some three million years ago.
Stegomastadon look very similar to today’s elephants but have a more squat and weighty build. The creature stood about nine feet tall and weighed more than six tons, with a pair of tusks that grew as long as 3.5-metres.
"This is far and away the best one we've ever found," said Morgan, noting how the river sediment must have quickly preserved and fossilized the creature. "This may be one of the most complete [stegomastodon skulls] ever found – anywhere."
The skull is awaiting transport back to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, where Morgan said it would be invaluable to researchers thanks to its pristine condition.
“This is the coolest thing ever,” said Gradillas. “Some people with PhDs in this field might not even have this kind of opportunity. We were so lucky.”
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Canadian woman suing police who locked her in van with sex offender who then raped her
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Putin opponent reveals Russian President's daughter's secret identity
Ball pool for adults opens in London
Gay couple buy JebBushForPresident.com web domain, and refuse to sell
Canadian woman suing police who locked her in van with sex offender who then raped her
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...
£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...