Wow! I love this story of how Nature Conservancy program coordinator Lisa Wrinkle stumbled across a fossilized bison while on a hike with her mother and her children. Seriously, this is the sort of thing I dreamed might happen to me when I was 5.
I noticed some bone-like material in a cut bank that had been washed out in a previous flood. They were situated on top of what looked like burned rock (an archaeologist term for rock used for hearths or campfires by prehistoric people) which peaked my interest and made me wonder if it might be something more than an animal that had randomly met a harsh fate.
I took a closer look and found that it was a jawbone, teeth and a vertebra. At first glance, the teeth appeared to be cow-like. However, my mom and I discussed the fact that because they were near the burned rock, that they could be prehistoric bison. We were very excited by the prospect because bison fossils are very rare in this area.
I happened to have a cow skull at my house just up the bank from the site and quickly retrieved it for comparison. The teeth looked similar, but not quite the same. We convinced ourselves that we may have stumbled across something significant--and possibly thousands of years old. At this point I was hooked and just had to get to the bottom of this mystery!
Via Kevin Zelnio
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.