Elephant Butte is a small city in New Mexico that calls itself the “Diamond in the Desert.” As KRQE News 13 reports, it was in this scenic location that a group of friends celebrating a bachelor party made an astonishing find – a giant fossil of the tusk and skull of what’s believed to be a Stegomastodon. According to the University of Nebraska State Museum, Stegomastodons were, “the last surviving member of a lineage of primitive tuskers called ‘gomphotheres’ which first entered North America 15 million years ago.”
KRQE spoke with one of the revelers, Antonio Gradillas. He recounted to the station, “As we are cruising by we see a large tusk, or what seemed to be the tusk, hanging out of the ground, about a good three to four inches out.” The friends started to dig and saw that it was a tusk and skull. They initially thought it was a woolly mammoth, but when they contacted the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, they were informed that it was a Stegomastodon.
The Albuquerque Journal spoke with New Mexico State Parks spokesperson Beth Wojahn, who said that paleontologists will analyze the fossil skull with the goal of excavating it. “Fossil fragments of the same type have previously been found in Elephant Butte Lake State Park, but nothing this complete,” Wojahn told the Journal. “This appears to be a major find.”