Southwest

New Mexico bachelor party finds 3-million-year-old stegomastodon fossil

June 12: New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science curator of paleontology Gary Morgan talks to the media about the find of a fossilized stegomastodon skull at Elephant Butte Sate Park,

June 12: New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science curator of paleontology Gary Morgan talks to the media about the find of a fossilized stegomastodon skull at Elephant Butte Sate Park,  (AP Photo/Las Cruces Sun-News, Robin Zielinksk)

A group of campers celebrating a bachelor party at a New Mexico state park Monday stumbled upon the fossil of a 3-million-year-old elephant-like creature called a stegomastodon.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reported Thursday that paleontologists were at the scene near Elephant Butte Lake and determined that the stegomastondon was about 50 years old when it died, and called the discovery a "major find."

"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," Antonio Gradillas, a member of the bachelor party, told KRQE.com. Gradillas alerted the New Mexico Natural History Museum to their discovery. 

The fossil was nearly completely intact, which is rare and the scientific prospects of the find gave one of the excavating workers "butterflies."

"This is far and away the best one we’ve ever found," Gary Morgan, a paleontologist, told the paper. "Maybe the only complete one found in New Mexico."

The paper pointed out that New Mexico was a subtropical climate when the stegomastondon roamed. Scientists hope to study the creature’s skull and may eventually put it on view for the public.