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Bachelor Party Stumbles Upon 3-Million-Year-Old Mastodon Skull

Stegamastodon

Image credit: Randall Gann/New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science/

While a lager number of guys organize their bachelor party in a bar or restaurant, a group of friends participating in a pre-wedding gathering came across something very special — a 3-million-year-old skull.

When they were going out hiking in Elephant Butte Lake State Park near Albuquerque, New Mexico, they found something unusual standing out from the sand ground. Such guys did not stop digging until they discovered an almighty skull. Then they sent back the pictures they took there to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, which immediately had its resident paleontologists examine on the spot.

As soon as excavation of the skull was completed, it was found that the specimen was preserved so well. As Randall Gann, public information officer of the museum said, it was almost a complete skull except that the bottom jaw was missing. There was still some enamel on bottom teeth.

In their preliminary study, the scientists cataloged it as the skull’s stegomastodon, which was a prehistoric ancestor of present elephants that lived the Earth during the Ice Age. Although the specimen weighing 1,000 pound might look like a woolly mammoth, paleontologist Gary Morgan identified it as a mastodon rather than a mammoth because of remarkable differences in the teeth.

As Morgan explained, mammoths owned ridged molars for grazing while mastodons had cone-shaped molars suitable for chomping down twigs.

Generally speaking, sometimes the visitors to the park might find fossils, usually in bits and pieces. However, to the eyes of   Morgan, it was much rare to discover such an intact specimen. A complete fossil there meant a very scientific importance which could help people understand better about the evolutionary history.

As tall as around 10 feet (3 meters) with the weight of 3 to 5 tons, Mastodons immigrated to North America more than 15 million years ago and disappeared around 10,000 years ago. The reason why they became extinct was unknown to scientists yet.

In regard to this particular specimen, Morgan estimated that it was possible 50 when he died. At the time of death, it was probably 9 foot tall and weighed around 6 tons.

Before the skull was formally exhibited in the museum, scientists would engage in further examination of it so as to get more clues to development of this species in its evolution history.

Source:  LiveScience

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