Jude Sparks is only nine years old, but made an incredible paleontological discovery. The accidental discovery of the fossil occurred in November last year when Jude and his family rode in Las Cruces, New Mexico, in the United States. The boy and his brothers ran and played, while experimenting with walkie-talkies, when Jude ran into something that intrigued him.
When he looked at what lay ahead of him, he saw two large fossilized teeth coming out of the ground, reports The Washington Post. “I did not know what it was, I just knew it was not normal”, Jude told KVIA News.
The parents, after photographing the finding, sought help on the Internet and met Peter Houde, a biology professor at the University of New Mexico. Houde states that every year he receives several emails from people who claim to have discovered fossils, and that most often turn out to be normal rocks. This discovery was different.
The professor was able to verify that it was a fossil of a skull, practically intact, of a stegomastodon.
“They sent me a photo on Friday night and I was able to immediately realize that it was a skull or jaw, I could see the teeth”, Houde told The Washington Post.
This species, now extinct, is a former elephant relative who had two huge teeth curved upward, almost nine feet high. According to the publication by Houde, this is a rare discovery since the animal’s teeth have been exposed on the surface.
“The fossils of this animal are rarely found in this area. And they are extremely fragile despite their size”, Houde said.
“If Jude had tried to remove the fossil, it was more likely that he would have gone”, he added.
Only a few months after the discovery was that Houde’s team was allowed to start excavations at the property, according to the University press release.
Meanwhile, Jude has turned 10 and told KVIA News that most of his friends do not believe he has found a fossil more than a million years old. Hude, who continues to study the fossil, said the discovery could be shown to the public very soon, at the Vertebrate Museum of New Mexico State University.
In 2014, during a bachelor party at Elephant Butte State Park in southern New Mexico, a fossilized, almost complete skull of a stegomastodon was discovered, which is currently displayed at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History.
The following year, 2015, Wylie Brys, just four years old, overcame fossils of a nodosaurus while exploring the grounds behind a mall in Dallas.