Elephant Butte Lake in New Mexico is so titled due to the prominent island in the middle of the reservoir roughly resembling the body of an elephant — but very soon its moniker could acquire more true-to-life significance.
All courtesy of a bachelor party in full tilt on the premises.
“As we are cruising by we see a large tusk or what seems to be a large tusk coming out of the ground about a good three to four inches out,” reveler Antonio Gradillas told KRQE-TV in Albuquerque of what stopped them in their tracks Monday.
Gradillas and his compadres called time-out, commenced digging, and discovered something that should ensure none of them ever forget their get-together: An apparent fossil of a giant tusk and skull they assumed was from a Woolly Mammoth.
They sent photos to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science and quickly notified authorities, who sealed off the area to conduct a proper excavation.
Paleontologists told KRQE the fossil appears to be of a Stegomastodon — a nine-foot tall, 13,000-pound prehistoric elephant that, according to the University of Nebraska State Museum, became extinct about 1.3 million years ago, according to the Las Cruces Sun-News.
“Fossil fragments of the same type have previously been found in Elephant Butte Lake State Park, but nothing this complete,” State Parks spokeswoman Beth Wojahn told the Albuquerque Journal. “This appears to be a major find.”