Jude Sparks said he literally fell on the 1.2-million-year-old skull of a stegomastodon -- a massive prehistoric creature with tusks like an elephant -- while on a hike with his parents on the desert outskirts of his neighborhood in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
"I was running farther up and I tripped on part of the tusk," Sparks said in a statement from New Mexico State University, where researchers are studying the find. "My face landed next to the bottom jaw. I looked farther up and there was another tusk."
The stegomastodon is one of three species of proboscideans that inhabited the ancient Rio Grande Valley, and is believed to be an ancestor to modern-day elephants.
Sparks' parents contacted biologist Peter Houde, a professor at New Mexico State University, after hearing he had discovered a similar fossil in a quarry south of campus, the university said.