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Utah Family Discovers Nearly 16,000-Year-Old Horse Skeleton In Backyard

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The Hill family of Lehi, Utah was landscaping their backyard when they were interrupted by a surprising discovery.

A Skeleton Surprise

Homeowners Laura and Bridger Hill found something uncanny when they saw some skeletal ribs. As they slowly unearthed the remaining body parts, it turned out to be a horse skeleton. Unsure what to do with the skeleton, Hill turned to Rick Hunter, a paleontologist at the Museum of Ancient Life, who then sent a team of paleontologists over to investigate.

No Horsing Around

Once Hunter and his paleontologists were at the house, they began to look for the rest of the horse. Hunter and his team estimated that the skeleton was the size of a Shetland pony.

Initially, the team was unable to find the horse's head. However, they found that the skeleton still had all four legs, which were near the horse's torso. Eventually, the paleontologists were able to discover the skeleton's head 50 feet beyond the discovery site. It turned out that the skull was shattered, and its fragments were moved across the excavation site. Hunter and his team estimated that the skeleton was 14,000 to 16,000 years old.

Getting Museum-Ready

Hunter decided to move the horse skeleton from the Hill family home. He hopes that once the skeleton is repaired and preserved, it would be added to the Museum of Ancient Life. However, the paleontologists had a challenge on their hands. The horse's bones were not yet fossils, and they were dehydrated bones that needed to be handled with extra care.

"If they dry too quickly, they will crack. You have to cure them slowly," said Hunter to the New York Times.

Fossils And Footprints

The Hill family could relate their story to 11-year-old Ryleigh Taylor. Taylor was walking on a Douglas Lake trail in Dandridge, Tennessee, when she found an unusual rock that turned out to have prehistoric origins. The University of Tennessee, which got involved with the investigation after Taylor's parents informed them about the fossil, revealed that it was a 475-million-year-old fossil of a trilobite. Researchers said that trilobites were marine creatures that lived nearly 500 million years ago.

Meanwhile, a team of Bournemouth University scientists discovered perfectly preserved footprints that belonged to a giant ground sloth near the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. The team found that sloths walked in straight or curved paths. However, the scientists discovered "flailing circles" in the sloths' footprints, which was due to ancient humans chasing them. Matthew Bennett, one of the authors of Science Advances, believed that ancient humans might have wiped out the sloths.

In March, Shawn and Caid Sellers and Michael Mahalitc discovered the partial jawbone of a mastodon while they were walking around the family land in Bovina, Mississippi. The Sellers brothers' mother notified the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science that they might have found a fossil. The museum's expert, George Phillips, was able to identify that the fossil was a mastodon.

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