Magazine article National Parks

A Mammoth Discovery

Magazine article National Parks

A Mammoth Discovery

Article excerpt

The lucky find that led to the creation of a monument.

In 1978,21-year-old Paul Barron wasn't out to make a big discovery. He was looking for something small: snakes.

It had been a cold spring in Waco, Texas, and when he picked up a bundle of wood to make a fire, a copperhead darted from the pile, terrifying his sister. She asked Barron and his friend, Eddie Bufkin, to dear the family's house of snakes to protect her young sons.

The two men eventually wandered to the banks of a nearby creek, where Barron made a startling find. "As I was climbing, a piece of what appeared to be rock broke off in my hand.... It turned out it was a ball joint from a hip," he said.

As Barron and Bufkin scanned the area, they spotted what appeared to be a femur, a tusk, and numerous other bone fragments lodged in the clay, covered with moss. "The tusk in particular was shot through with tiny little cracks," he said. "It looked to me like if you tried to pick it up, it would probably crumble."

Fortunately, Barron had spent significant time learning about the natural sdences with his Boy Scout troop and had even met the director of his local sdence museum as a teenager. …

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