Thanks to advancements in technology over the past five years, discovering the past has seen monumental strides. The Inquisitr reported on such news, in which professionals in the field of exploration discovered something truly breathtaking. On the side of archaeology, satellite images were used to pinpoint possible locations of the tomb of Genghis Khan. On the side of paleontology, the bones of a tiny dinosaur — no bigger than a house pet — were discovered in South Korea.
However, such finds are expected to be discovered by their respective professionals in said field. Archaeologists, anthropologists, paleontologists, geologists, and many others have the credibility and the know-how. That is not the case for two men in Michigan when they discovered mastodon bones by a stroke of coincidence.
According to an article by ABC News, it reports that Eric Witzke recruited his neighbor, contractor Daniel LaPoint, to dig up a pond in the backyard of his home in Bellevue Township, Michigan, last November. One day, Daniel noticed a giant rib sticking out of the ground. Over four days, the two worked together to excavate a total of 42 bones. At first, they thought they had uncovered a dinosaur, but as they continued to work, they found it be a mastodon, a five-ton animal that was the slightly smaller cousin of the woolly mammoth and a distant relative of the modern elephant.
Both Eric Witzke and Daniel LaPoint said they plan to keep a few of the bones as mementos of their discovery. As for the rest, they will donate them to the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology.
In a follow-up by the Huffington Post, it reports that Daniel Fisher, a paleontologist at the university, has already uncovered details about the mastodon bones. First, the bones belong to a 37-year-old male mastodon that lived between 10,000 to 14,000 years ago. Second, the bones are the remains of an ancient meal for early Americans, around the time when the area’s first human settlers, the Paleo-Indians, arrived 12,000 years ago.
“Preliminary examination indicates that the animal may have been butchered by humans. The scientific value is really the new perspective, the new information, that specimens like these can bring.”
Though the mastodon bones have been examined by Daniel Fisher, they are presently not at the museum. Instead, both Eric Witzke and Daniel LaPoint brought the bones to a local middle school for show-tell-and-touch. LaPoint explained why they did this.
“Once these things go to the museum and get crated up, you’re not going to get to touch them again. It’s over with and I was that kid who wanted to touch that thing on the other side of the glass. All the kids got to pick them up and hold them. Some kids, it was life-changing for them. To change one kid’s life because they got to touch it, I think, is an incredible opportunity.”
It should be noted that hundreds of mastodon bones and even some footprints have been found in Michigan. As a matter of fact, the giant mastodon is officially Michigan’s state fossil.
[Images via Lansing State Journal]