Michigan Boys Unearth 13,000-year-old Mastodon Bone in Backyard Dig

Eric Stamatin’s expeditions into his family’s wooded suburban Detroit backyard have yielded plenty of interesting finds, but none to rival the 13,000-year-old artifact he and his cousin dug up last summer.

Eric and cousin Andrew Gainariu, who are both 11, were building a dam in the creek that flows through the yard when Eric saw a strange-looking rock sticking up from the ground. At least, he thought it was a rock.

“We thought it might be a cool-looking rock, because I see a lot of those, until my cousin said, ‘Hey wait a minute, I think this is a bone,’" Eric told FoxNews.com. "I said, ‘I’m really not sure, let’s go home and show my Dad.’ My Dad’s a doctor. So my Dad looked at it and said, ‘Yep, it’s a bone.’”

More specific scientific verification came last month, when paleontolgist John Zawiskie authenticated the bone as a vertebrae from a mastodon. Zawiskie saw a cellphone photo Cristina Stamatin sent him, and he immediately knew “there was no mistaking this was from a mastodon,” the furry elephant-like creature that went extinct about 12,000 years ago, after a 3.7 million-year run on Earth.

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