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9-year-old Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth near Home

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Apr 21, 2014 12:42 PM EDT
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Many crazy antics can happen at bachelor parties, but discovering an ancient fossil isn't usually one of them. Well, that was the case for a group of campers celebrating a bachelor party at a New Mexico state park Monday, who stumbled upon the fossil of a 3-million-year-old elephant-like creature called a stegomastodon. (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

A 9-year-old boy from Michigan unearthed a 10,000-year-old mastodon tooth from a creek near his home.

"I was walking down at the creek last summer. I felt something that I stepped on so I picked it up and everybody in the neighborhood thought it was pretty cool," Philip Stoll told CNN on Friday.

And like any curious explorer, Stoll was determined to get to the bottom of his mysterious find.

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"It felt weird," he said, according to the Detroit Free Press. "I had to see what it was. I pulled it out and brought it to my mom."

Stoll, or "Huckleberry Finn" as he's appropriately named by his neighborhood, took the six-peaked, 8-inch foreign object to his Windsor Township house and washed it in his kitchen sink to get a better look. Mom Heidi Stoll was also brought in for consultation.

"I didn't even think that it could have been a tooth until I started checking online for some kind of match," she said. "We saw a picture of a Mastodon tooth and said 'there it is.'"

The Stoll family eventually reached out to James Harding, a herpetologist - an expert on reptiles and amphibians, at nearby Michigan State, who confirmed their suspicions.

"This is indeed a mastodon tooth," Professor Harding verified in an email, CNN reports. "Apparently (it is) the upper surface, broken off at the roots."

Mastodons were hairy, elephant-like beasts that used to roam the Earth and have long been extinct. Their bones, Harding said, pop up every three or four years in Michigan, so Philip's find, while fascinating, isn't highly unusual. Just two years ago, two young boys made national news when they found a Mastodon axis bone while fishing in Shelby Township.

"It is a great reminder of what used to roam the country," Harding said. "It most likely got stuck in a swampy area and drowned."

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