Farming frequently involves digging and surveying the land. It's not every day that a farmer stumbles upon something incredible while they're working in their field. Yet somehow, at the same time, two farmers in different parts of the world made incredible discoveries from thousands of years ago on their respective properties. Little did these two farmers know that their findings would coincide with each other's and teach us all how little we actually know about what's beneath our feet.
It All Started on Christmas Morning
In Argentina on December 25, 2015, Jose Antonio Nievas woke up and decided to take a stroll on his ranch as a nice start to his holiday. As he walked past the stream that runs through his property, he couldn't help but notice something strange sticking out from the bank.
At first, he thought it was nothing more than a large stone. But as he approached the object, he realized that it wasn't a stone at all, but something entirely different.
He Called His Wife
Although hesitant at first, Jose decided to get a closer look at the mysterious object. He then began digging the object out of the mud so he could better understand what the stone-like mass was.
After he had successfully removed all of the mud from the object, he quickly called his wife, Reina, to come and have a look. He hoped that maybe she would have some explanation for what he had found.
They Worked Together
Reina had no clue what her husband had stumbled upon either. However, they were both determined to find out. Together they continued to unearth and clean the object.
Luckily, they had the proper tools for the job so they didn't end up damaging the unknown object in the process. It didn't take them long to realize just how large it was. At that point, they decided that they were going to need help, and called the police.
Other Locals Began To Show Up
By the time Jose and his wife had called the police, more and more people had begun to show up, curious about what they had found. It seemed like the whole city had come to be part of the investigation.
When the police arrived, they couldn't figure out what it was either. The police were just as clueless as Jose, his wife, and the rest of the locals that had gathered.
Their Dog Sensed Something
It didn't take long for Jose's dog to take notice of all the action and head over to the site. The dog appeared stunned at first and began sniffing and barking until it finally made its way closer to the mysterious object.
It's a known fact that we should pay attention to the behavior of animals because they tend to pick up on things that most humans can't. The fact that the dog was behaving in such a bizarre manner proved that this was no ordinary rock.
They Called In Professionals
After seeing Jose's dog's reaction, the police decided that it was time to call two local professional archaeologists. After examining what Jose had discovered, the archaeologists concurred that the massive object was from a different time and that it was undoubtedly ancient.
Of course, they couldn't learn anything more by keeping it in the mud and water. So, the archeologists arranged a way to transport the object so that it could be examined in a laboratory.
Let The Digging Begin
To transport the object, the archaeologists had to first dig it out of the mud. Even though Jose and his wife had put in a lot of work, there was still much to be done. Plus, they didn't want to risk damaging any part of it.
As they were digging, they noticed that the exterior was made out of foreign, hard material. Now, the archeologists knew they needed to study it as soon as possible and shipped it off to the lab.
Back In The Lab
Once the object arrived at the lab, they began running tests to find what in the world had been found on Jose's property. Using a microscope, they began closely examining it only to make a shocking discovery.
They came to the amazing realization that what they were looking at was the fossil of an enormous turtle shell. The archeologists couldn't believe what they were seeing. Thankfully, Jose had been curious enough to investigate!
They Finally Figured Out Exactly What The Shell Was
Researchers finally deduced what exactly the object in Jose's farm was. The findings turned out to be incredible. While Jose was on his Christmas morning walk, he had stumbled upon the fossilized shell of a glyptodon.
Glyptodons are extinct creatures and relatives of modern-day armadillos. They walked the earth around the same time as the dinosaurs. The scientists couldn't believe that this amazing find was just sitting on Jose's property!
A Monster Found In Michigan
While the investigation of the massive turtle shell was underway in Argentina, another incredible discovery was made in Michigan, thousands of miles away. Another farmer, James Bristle, found an unknown historic specimen on his farm as well!
At the time, the two farmers did not know each other or that they had both found something incredible. They also certainly couldn't have known that both their miraculous findings would eventually bring them together in an incredible turn of events.
Digging A Natural Gas Line
One day, James Bristle was searching for the best place to establish a natural gas line on his farm. He decided that a barely-used soy field on his property would be the best place to start and began digging.
Unsurprisingly, creating a natural gas line takes quite a lot of digging. While Bristle was prepared for the amount of physical work he was up against, he definitely wasn't prepared for what he would find beneath his very own property.
It Takes More Than A Few Shovels
When it comes to digging a natural gas line, the project takes much more than a few guys with shovels. Bristle knew that he would need some heavy-duty digging equipment in order to get the job done correctly, specifically a backhoe.
He needed to get to work as soon as possible and finish the job by October, before the snow would come and halt the project.
There Shouldn't Have Been Anything There
Bristle was digging in a soy field which was supposed to be extremely fertile and light soil with no rocks or roots beneath it. So, when he hit something hard while using the backhoe, he knew that something was definitely out of the ordinary.
In order to avoid damaging the equipment, he got out of the backhoe and went toward the hole. He then began digging with his hands until he came across something hard and smooth.
He Found Some Mysterious Bones
As he continued excavating the site with his hands and had cleared off the objects, he realized that he had discovered a group of bones. However, this was unlike any bones that he had ever encountered.
The one he was holding appeared to be a rib bone, yet, it certainly didn't belong to any type of animal that might live in the area. It was also far too large to belong to a cow or horse, so, he continued to dig for more answers.
The Investigation Continues
Bristle realized that he had something big on his hands -- literally. Recognizing that what he found might be of importance, he decided that it was time to call up some help from his local friends to help him dig.
A team came in and the investigation continued for the whole next day. To the astonishment of everyone involved, they found another incredibly large bone. Amazingly, this one was even bigger than the first one Bristle had found.
The Gas Line Was Put On Hold
By the time they found the other large bone, the team was now digging more than ten feet into the ground. The project had started as the beginning of a natural gas pipeline but now was the base camp for an archaeological site.
Now, news started to spread around Bristle's Michigan town that something incredible had been discovered on his property. This created a lot of buzz among locals and piqued the interest of major news outlets.
The Whole Town Was Curious
Much like what had occurred in Jose's small town in Argentina, locals came from all over in the hopes of catching a glimpse at the mystery that lay beneath Bristle's property. People had all sorts of guesses as to what the bones could possibly be, yet nobody had a definitive answer.
One of the popular theories circulating among the locals was that a monster had been buried there many years before.
A Huge Clue
After much digging, the amateur archaeology team finally uncovered a significant clue. They dug up what appeared to be a massive skull with two huge tusks attached. Each of the tusks was the size of a full-grown man!
It was clear to the team that they had unearthed some type of elephant. But the question remained. How did an elephant end up ten feet underground on a farm in Michigan?
Talking To The Experts
This discovery was completely beyond Bristle, so he know that it was time to call in the experts to examine what he had found. He reached out to University of Michigan professor Daniel Fisher for an expert opinion.
Professor Fisher was the Director of the University of Michigan's Museum of Paleontology, so was understandably thrilled to hear what Bristle had found. The day after their talk, Fisher and his students showed up to examine Bristle's find.
Professor Fisher and his students were buzzing with excitement when they arrived on the site. Not long after their arrival, they couldn't believe what they had on their hands. They announced that the bones were the remains of a woolly mammoth skull.
As if that wasn't exciting enough, it was still intact, something incredibly rare! Now, the team had to think a way of getting the remains out of the deep hole without damaging it.
Luckily, They Had The Tools On Site
Because Bristle had been using a backhoe to dig a trench for his natural gas line, they had the perfect tool to get the large woolly mammoth skull out of the ground. They constructed a rig that could lift the skull using the backhoe and set it safely on the ground without damaging it.
Now, the team would be able to examine the specimen more easily and assess what it looked like beneath all of the mud.
Ready To Haul It Out
After the team attached the necessary straps to the skull, it was almost time for the moment of truth. They needed to make sure that everything was in working order before they dared to lift the already fragile fossil remains off the ground.
Amazingly, as the backhoe began to lift it out of the mud, it looked like everything was going to work out exactly as they had planned.
There Was Almost A Catastrophic Accident
As the skull was lifted from the ground to be put on a truck bed, one of the straps supporting the skull suddenly snapped. One of the tusks was inches away from hitting the truck bed with a force that would have for sure broken it.
Everyone held their breath since the last thing they wanted was this mammoth skull to be left in broken pieces after all of their hard work. Fortunately, the skull was then safely lowered onto the truck and taken to the museum for examination.
Two Different Discoveries From Across The World
It was truly incredible that two different farmers from two different parts of the world had stumbled upon prehistoric fossils at the same time. While Jose had found a glyptodon shell on his farm, Bristle had found a woolly mammoth skull on his own land!
Scientists were beginning to wonder if this was more than a mere coincidence since after all, it's not every day that such rare artifacts are discovered.
So What Exactly Are Glyptodons?
Although Jose found the shell in Argentina, that's not the primary location where these prehistoric creatures roamed. Remains of these animals have been found in almost every continent, even Australia and China. Their shells were similar to that of a tortoise and were used for protection against predators.
While one might think they are close relative to the tortoise, they're nearest to today's armadillos. They were land-dwelling animals and had bones on their heads and snouts, much like a modern armadillo.
It has been assumed that these animals once co-existed with early humans and that our ancestors very well may have driven them to extinction. Their shells would have of use to humans who could have used them for protection or as shelter during bad weather.
Scientists thought that the shell found by Jose had died and was buried by mud during a major storm. It's incredible that the shell found in Argentina lasted all those thousands of years!
And What About The Mammoth?
After the mammoth arrived at the museum from Bristle's property, experts began sorting through the various bones and dating them to eventually put on display. It looked like they all belonged to the same mammoth, which was an incredible find for both Bristle and the University of Michigan team.
Their estimates turned out to be true, and they came to the conclusion that the creature was a North American woolly mammoth. More than 30 of them have been discovered in Michigan alone!
Coming From South Africa
It is believed that these magnificent beasts came from South Africa and made their way through Eurasia and eventually to the Americas long ago. It is thought that the mammoths began to disappear around 11,7000 years ago, mostly due to being overhunted by humans.
It's highly possible that a group of hunters killed the particular mammoth discovered by Bristle. The carcass would have then been left to sink beneath the ground until it was eventually unearthed.
A Generous Donation
Even though Bristle had made the discovery himself, he had no use for the remains and felt the need to give them to science. He decided to donate them to the Michigan gallery since Professor Fisher and his team had worked so hard at unearthing and investigating the mammoth's remains.
Of course, the university was thankful for Bristle's donation, and now people from all over can come see what was found in his own backyard.
An Astonishing Coincidence
Little did Jose and James Bristle, two humble farmers, know that they would be key players in two significant archaeological finds. Not only that, but they would be making incredible discoveries at the same time and two different places in the world!
They made discoveries of a lifetime without any intention of doing such a thing. Their stories help explain that while we think we know so much about the world we live in, there could be something undiscovered right under our feet!