A six-year-old boy in Michigan unearthed a mastodon tooth, an ancient creature that lived in North and Central America and died out some 12,000 years ago during the last ice age. According to WDIV, Julian Gagnon discovered the dinosaur while wandering with his family at the Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve in Rochester Hills, Michigan.
Mastodons disappeared roughly 12,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene Era. The kid had stumbled upon the tooth unknowingly. He had no idea that he had literally walked onto a piece of history. Julian Gagnon said:
I just felt something on my foot and I grabbed it up, and it kind of looked like a tooth.
Researchers at the University of Michigan confirmed that the fossilized tooth belonged to an American Mastodon. The size of the fossil is equivalent to the size of a human hand.
Docent at the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History, Abigail Drake said:
Honestly, I'm a little jealous, personally, because mining fossils is something that I wish I could do every day.
It's hard to be preserved as a fossil when an animal dies, most of the time it is scavenged.
Mastodons are ancient elephant and mammoth relatives that were assumed to have been wiped out by mankind. They were among the largest terrestrial animals on the planet at the time, with lengths of up to ten feet and weights of up to eight tonnes.
'I thought I was going to get money'
Many fossils have been found at the preserve in the past, and as such this incident was quite normal. Although, the finding from it was extremely rare. This led Julian Gagnon to believe he would be awarded money for his discovery. The kid said:
At first, I thought I was going to get money. I was gonna get a million dollars. So, embarrassing right now.
The name of the preserve also comes after kids like Julian. Extra dirt dugout during basement excavations was piled up in one spot as the neighbourhoods around Dinosaur Hill were being built, forming a hill. As such, they preserve rights on the website:
Local children who played on the hill dubbed it 'Dinosaur Hill' because of its resemblance to a sleeping dinosaur. When the nature preserve was established, the name stuck and Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve was born.