Las Cruces – The skull of a mastodon-like animal has been unearthed in a mining pit in southern New Mexico.
It crumbled after researchers tried to excavate it from the site near Mesquite, and it will now have to be painstakingly reassembled.
New Mexico State University biologist and Paleozoic museum curator Peter Houde says it will be a big job.
The fossil belonged to a tusked animal that resembled an elephant. Before crumbling, the fossil was 8 feet long.
When Houde first visited the fossil, much of the dirt that had surrounded it had been removed by mine workers. He says he and helpers tried to stabilize it with a glue-like substance.
Houde says he's grateful the mine owner turned over the fossil to the university.
Information from: Las Cruces Sun-News, http://www.lcsun-news.com
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.