Farmer Finds Rare Prehistoric Mammoth

'It was certainly a lot bigger than a cow bone,' says Michigan man
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2015 1:51 PM CDT

(Newser) – A Michigan farmer had to take a short break from installing a drainage pipe in his wheat fields Monday when his backhoe hit the pelvis of a prehistoric mammoth, ABC News reports. "We didn't know what it was, but we knew it was certainly a lot bigger than a cow bone," James Bristle says in a University of Michigan press release. Bristle contacted Daniel Fisher, the director of the college's Museum of Paleontology, who realized the bones—including a huge skull and tusks—came from a rare hybrid of a woolly mammoth and Columbian mammoth, ABC reports. Fisher believes the animal was killed by hunters 11,700 to 15,000 years ago.

ABC reports Bristle gave Fisher and his team one day to dig up the bones; he did have a busy harvest season to get back to after all. They found 20% of the creature's bones, one of the most complete mammoth skeletons ever found in Michigan. Fisher believes hunters likely killed the mammoth then stashed its meat in a pond to retrieve later, according to the press release. If further study proves that's true, it could show humans were in the Americas earlier than previously thought. After a long day of digging Thursday, Bristle finally decided he'd done the right thing trading farming for science for a few hours. "When my 5-year-old grandson came over and saw the pelvis, he just stood there with his jaw wide open," Bristle says in the press release. "He was in awe."

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