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Boy Discovered Million Year Old Fossil by Accident

Leslie Tander

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In November 2016, a nine-year old, Jude Sparks, was out for a hike with his family in Las Cruces, New Mexico when he tripped over what first appeared to be a rock or fossilized wood. When he looked closer, the strange-looking obstruction turned out to be the jawbone, half-buried in the desert.  

Paleontologists unearthed partial skeletons in New Mexico more than 20 years ago. Since then, more than 25 different species of dinosaurs have been found, including Alamosaurus, Coelophysis, Edmontosaurus, Iguanodon, and Tyrannosaurus rex. Still every find is important, and Jude’s find was no different. Professor Peter Houde, from New Mexico State University, recognized the fossil as the jaw from a stegomastodon, an ancient cousin of the elephant, although it’s a gomphothere offshoot.  

What Makes the Stegomastodon Special?  

Once Houde unearthed the stegomastodon, he determined that it was one of the most complete skeletons found in New Mexico. It was a type of Pleistocene creature that roamed the Rio Grande Valley. It was once a common species, but it’s now considered to be a rare find.  

Houde transported the stegomastodon jaw and tusk to the NMSU Vertebrate Museum. The entire skull was excavated in May 2017, and the process of reconstructing the fossil is still underway. Once the fossil skeleton is fully reassembled, Houde wants to put the 1.2 million-year old stegomastodon skull on display.  

Beyond the rarity of the fossil find, it’s also an inspiration for both Jude and for all the others who were once passionate about fossils and dinosaurs. It just shows that pieces of prehistoric history are waiting to be discovered just below the surface. For those who find fossils in the desert sand, it’s also a reminder to contact an expert to find out more about them and bring them into the light of day.  

What’s Next? 

The stegomastodon discovery was not the first nor the last fossil to be discovered in New Mexico. Bob Chesbrough and his kids found a crocodile fossil in September 2018, but they’ve found more than a thousand bone fragments in the Ojito Wilderness over the years. Chesbrough worked with Dr. Spencer Lucas, a paleontologist at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science, to recover and excavate the fossils.  

Fossils are discovered at sites across the US and around the world. When Jude discovered the fossil, it was a surprise, but it also reawakened his passion for the discovery of prehistoric history. It’s might be reminiscent of a dreamed-of treasure hunt, where instead of gold or gems, it’s possible to stumble upon important fossil finds. 

To some, the discovery of these fossilized remnants are the biggest treasure. These fragments of the past shed light on the creatures, vegetation and landscape, but it’s also a lesson in science and adventuring. The next great fossilized creature may be a stumble away. 

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Life

Surprise! 13-Foot Burmese Python Found in Unusual Spot in Florida

Leslie Tander

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What’s the most surprising thing you’ve come across on the road? Maybe you found a spare tire on the road before or perhaps even some clothes.

You can find all sorts of things over the course of your many travels along America’s roads, although it will be pretty hard to top what one man stumbled upon.

Nick Bishop, a native of Los Angeles, was traveling through Florida together with a friend when they spotted something peculiar. What they saw was a large shadow that looked like it was being cast by a big log.

According to this article from Story Trender, Bishop knew right away that it was not just a log that they were looking at however. Bishop, who goes by the nickname “Nick The Wrangler” and was actually in Florida at the time to look for diamondback rattlesnakes, said that he knew right away that there was a python nearby.

Still, Bishop did admit that he did not expect to find the python when he did. He noted that he did not expect pythons to move that far away from where they usually reside. At the time Bishop saw the python, he said that he was about 30 miles away from where those animals are typically found.

Bishop could not afford to stand in awe of the snake for too long though. He knew that there was a vehicle closing in and that he would have to act quickly if he wanted to save the python from a potentially gruesome fate.

A Dance with the Python

Bishop knew he had to act quickly if he was going to move the python to a safe location. That’s why he decided to take matters into his own hands.

This article from The Daily Mail features a video showing Bishop as he attempts to wrangle the enormous Burmese python.

In the video, you can see that Bishop immediately goes for the python’s tail. The python then responds with hostility to Bishop’s actions by hissing in his direction.

Undeterred, Bishop keeps trying to lift the python off the ground in order to get it to safety. The python is not very cooperative though and even lunges at Bishop with its fangs.

Bishop continues with his efforts to wrangle the python and he eventually wears the animal out. With the snake visibly exhausted, he grabs the head and finally places the python under his control. He celebrates his triumph over the python by giving it a kiss on the head.

The snake wrangler goes on to describe his encounter with the wayward Burmese python as one of the most exciting moments of his life. He also regards it as a gift from Mother Nature.

Following his encounter with the python, Bishop handed the animal over to the authorities so that it could be cared for properly.

Learning More about the Python

Surprisingly enough, the 13-foot serpent Bishop saw that day may actually be on the smaller side. Per National Geographic, some Burmese pythons can grow to over 23 feet in terms of length and weigh over 200 pounds.

When they are younger, Burmese pythons like to spend their time high up in the trees. That becomes more difficult for them as they mature however.

Burmese pythons usually eat birds and small mammals. They prey upon those animals by first suffocating them. Thanks to their stretchable jaws, a Burmese python can fit its suffocated prey entirely into its mouth.

Sadly, Burmese pythons are still being hunted down for their skin and flesh. They are also having a harder time finding places to live. Because of that, Burmese pythons have ended up on the threatened species list.

Hopefully, more people like Nick Bishop will show care for Burmese pythons so that they can thrive once more.

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Life

Tales From the Road – Strange Photos Captured While Driving!

Lea Lomas

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J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.” Take a drive down the road and you never know what you might come across! Thanks to the prevalence of camera phones, we now have documentation of all the wild and weird stuff humans get up to while they are out and about. 

Keep on reading for 20 tales from the road and the strange images that tell their story!

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Amazing

Hollywood Stars From Yesteryear: Where Are They Now?

Leslie Tander

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The movie industry is a fast-paced machine that is always bringing in new talent and leaving old talent behind. If you kept a close eye on Hollywood during the 70s and 80s, you probably saw stars rise and fall out of nowhere. Today, we are going to take a trip back in time to see just what happened to our favorite famous faces from the 70s and 80s!

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