Boy Finds 1.2 million-year-old Stegomastodon Bones: Other Chance Prehistoric Fossil Discoveries
Sometimes, discoveries are made when you're not even looking for them. Here are some chance prehistoric discoveries made by unsuspecting people.
Stumbling On A Fossil
NIne-year-old Jude Sparks was playing with his brothers when he tripped on a part of a tusk. Their parents believe it was just an elephant remains and his brothers believe it was a cow skull. However, it turned out to be the fossilized remains of a 1.2 million-year-old dinosaur called a stegomastodon.
Though the skull was intact when the 9-year-old found it, it is actually delicate, hollow, and its surface is as thin as an eggshell.
In May, Metro crew working on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project discovered bone fragments of ancient animals that turned out to be an ancient bison and a giant sloth, creatures that roamed the area approximately 10,000 years ago.
This wasn't the first fossil find in the location as they have also previously discovered fossilized bone fragments from an ancient camel and an ancient elephant that could have been a mastodon or a mammoth.
Most Well Preserved Find
One of the most exquisite fossil finds was actually just accidental. It was while they were working when miners in Alberta spotted the find.
According to experts, it's possible that the body of the creature was so well preserved because of the minerals in ancient sea water. As it turns out, the mining location where the well-preserved fossil was found was actually an ancient sea bed.
The nodosaur was a herbivore which was probably alive 110 million to 112 million years ago. It had armor-like scales on its back which were clearly defined in the fossil. The "dinosaur mummy" is considered as one of the best-preserved fossils of its kind.
As proven by the nodosaur fossil in Alberta, miners actually have a lot of experience in accidental fossil finds. In 1856, workers quarrying for limestone threw aside remains which they thought were bear skulls. Luckily, a school teacher recognized the skull as more human than bear. In 1864, Irish geologist William King gave it a name for which a whole species of ancient humans will be known: Homo neanderthalensis.
In 1921, Swiss miners in Zambia came across human looking bone fragments that had heart-shaped brows and a sloping forehead. Those remains are known now to be from the species Homo heidelbergensis, believed to be the humans' and neanderthals' ancient common ancestor.
Just a few years later in 1924, a mining official in South Africa brought home what he thought was a monkey skull. His son then showed it to anatomy professor Raymond Dart who eventually classified it as the remains of a member of the Australopithecus africanus, an intermediate species between apes and humans.
Elk Hunter's Find
In 2010, a ranch manager was hunting for elk when he found what he initially thought to be the remains of a triceratops. As it turns out, the fossil remains that the elk hunter found were those of an ancient marine reptile related to plesiosaurs and elasmosaurus.
However, while most of the animals in the group had about 76 vertebrae, the fossil only had 40. Because of the shorter neck and fewer vertebrae, experts believe that the remains belong to a yet-to-be-classified dinosaur species.