What did you achieve when you were nine years old? Nothing? Yeah, that’s pretty cool. You’re certainly not as successful as New Mexico nine-year-old Jude Sparks, who discovered a million-year-old fossil by tripping over it.
According to a report in The New York Times, Sparks was out for a stroll with his family near Las Cruces, when he tripped and fell, and found himself face-to-face with a huge hunk of what he described as “fossilised wood.”
Sparks says he and he family “knew it was not something that you usually find,” and they ended up contacting biology professor Peter Houde, who quickly identified their find as the remains of a long-extinct Stegomastodon.
Here’s what a stegomastodon looked like, according to a reconstruction on Wikipedia. My take? Fairly cool.
Though some are saying that Jude found a dinosaur, the stegomastodon is not a dinosaur. It’s not even a mastodon, though it is kind of similar. It’s sort of a beefy elephant-like creature (same).
It seems that strong rains exposed the fossil, and that young Jude stumbled upon it at just the right time. if it had been exposed much longer, the elements would likely have destroyed the fragile fossil.
Jude himself said he went through a phase where he was interested in dinosaurs and fossils – as basically every kid does. “I’m not really an expert, but I know a lot about it, I guess,” he told the NYT.
Source: New York Times.
Photo: Peter Houde.