A Utah family working on a landscaping project unearthed the fossil remains of an ancient horse dating back more than 2 million years.
Family members were digging in the backyard of their Lehi home, about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City, when they discovered the skeleton, FOX13 Salt Lake City reported Sunday. Unclear about what they were looking at, the family called Rick Hunter, a paleontologist with the Museum of Ancient Life.
“It’s an ice age animal here in Utah Valley, right here in Lehi—pretty rare thing,” Hunter told FOX13.
“It’s really rare. This was under the water of Lake Bonneville back at that time, and so for terrestrial animals to be in there, something special had to happen,” he added.
Hunter said he knew the skeleton didn’t belong to a mammoth when he first got a glimpse of the discovery. The paleontologist suspects it’s the remains of an ancient Shetland pony based on the skeletal details.
“We don’t know how this horse got there,” Hunter said. “It’s fun to speculate and say maybe a predator was chasing him along the shoreline, horses can swim, maybe escaped that way and was unable to make it back in.”
Hunter said despite the horse’s head being missing, the fossil was still a great find. He and other paleontologists are still piecing together the details.
“We know that he was covered very quickly, because the articulation of the bones was so perfect that that had to happen to hold everything in place before it decomposed,” he said.