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10-year-old trips in the million-year old fossil discovery in New Mexico

Judas Sparks with the fossil dinosaur (Credit: Peter Maki)

A family outing turned into a major archaeological discovery of a New Mexico 10-year-old, who literally stumbled across a million-year old fossil.

Judas Sparks is walking in the rugged desert of New Mexico about five miles east of Las Cruces by the majestic Organ Mountains in November with his parents, Kyle and Michelle, and brothers, Hunter,8, and Rhett, 5.

Judas said that he and his brothers were checking their hand held radios when he tripped over something.

“I tripped on the bottom of the fang and fell flat on my face,” Jude told Fox News.

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When he turned his head, and he was looking directly at a part of what appeared to be a jawbone. “It looked like large pieces of bone.”

Dusting off Judas fast Hunter, who was the closest to the parents to check what he has found.

The boys originally thought, it looked like a big dark cow skull, but as Kyle and Michelle came she knew that it was something much more relevant than what is normally found in the desert.

Kyle said when he returned home, he called to Peter Maki, professor of Biology in the vicinity of New Mexico State University.

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When Maki arrived at the place, he was amazed at what the young Judas stumbled upon.

“I think this is only the second complete Stegomastodon skull found in the state of New Mexico,” Maki said.

There was yet another found in Elephant Butte State Park just north of the Las Cruces about two years ago.

“That one is missing the jaw, and it seems the ends of both tusks were broken off,” Maki told Fox News. “Our contains the jaw, but is missing a tusk so far we find it not.”

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According to Maki, there are only three nearly full Cuvieronius skulls, all of which were found in Bolivia in the early 1900’s. He says that this recent discovery is the most complete.

“Intact skulls of both are very rare and we had an unprecedented success in the obtaining of the two,” Maki said of New Mexico excavated prehistoric past.

He suspects the fossil Judas persuaded was unearthed by the recent rainfall in the region, but never the less, the irony of one of the younger of the stumble across such a historic find while playing with his brothers is inevitable.

Maki said these huge animals are a primitive group of proboscideans (‘elephantoids’) of that modern elephants evolved. The recent discoveries are late-comers that were not the ancestors to nothing.

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“We would look very much like the modern elephants as if they were alive today although the Cuvieronius had spiral tusks,” Maki said. “That their legs are still a bit stubbier, but the main difference of the elephants in their molars, as a result of a diet based more on leaves than those of modern elephants.”

Fossils of these animals exist, especially in the south of the United States, down through Central America, and in some cases in South America, but they are pretty universally represented by very scrappy bits of bone, teeth or tusks.

“They simply break into small pieces as they weather out of the sediment before they are found. The preservation of our is really uncommon, but a large part of that may be due to the fact that we were able to locate them while they are still deep under the ground,” Maki said.

Maki said the fossil is in remarkably good condition. The exposure to the dirt has a little damage to a tusk, but nothing that can’t be fixed. The fact that the jaw and the skull are found next to one another suggests that there might be, or might be, other parts of the skeleton preserved are not far away.

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of the delay in releasing information about the find was the obtaining of permission from the landowner to dig the site. Kyle said the university requested they not be free information to all of the pieces were in place, that only recently.

Kyle said that there are a lot of logistical coordination involved. He said that he and Maki decided the cover of the specimen with dirt until approval can be obtained.

“We plan to look at it, but we will not be allowed by the owner to dig willy-nilly without good geological information about where we are likely to be successful,” Maki said. “I’m waiting for our geologists to return from the summer field schools to look into.”

Maki said that he is not very optimistic, saying bones are scattered far and wide, and even if they are only 5-10 feet from each other, that would mean that much of the earth given the topography of this location.

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But for a small boy, he has a summer memory that will last a lifetime.

“It is amazing God has chosen to find this,” he said.

Michelle said that the structure of Jude’s homeschooling program is part of a co-op that will allow him to share exploits with his colleagues who are already calling wanting to know about the bot.

Correction: This story was corrected to make clear that the fossil was of a dinosaur.

Joseph J. Kolb is a regular contributor to Fox News.

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