Paleontologists working at Elephant Butte State Park have unearthed a massive fossil elephant skull weighing nearly 100 pounds.
Scientists say the skull, from an elephant-like creature known as a setgomastodon, is one of the most complete ever discovered and is in ‘near perfect’ condition.
The fossil was discovered on Monday after a group of revelers out for a bachelor party stumbled across it.
Experts say the skull is about 3 million years old, adding that it will be invaluable to science because of its completeness.
Paleontologist Gary Morgan estimated the animal was 50 years old when it died and weighed more than six tons.
He added: ‘This is the most amazing thing we’ve ever found. Probably the only complete one found in New Mexico. ‘
Officials at Elephant Butte Lake State Park said the skull was being dug out on Thursday. It will be protected with plaster and transported to Albuquerque.
Stegomastadons roamed New Mexico between 3 million and 1.3 million years ago and looked like smaller versions of modern elephants.
They could grow up to 9ft tall and had tusks up to 11ft long. It was a herbivore and had large, knurled molars similar to a cow’s designed to chew grass.
Morgan said mining still gives him butterflies after 20 years in the profession, adding that he can’t wait to turn the remains so he can see the ‘face’ side.
He hopes the skull will eventually go on display in a museum but says it’s too early to say where.
Park officials have not said the site’s location to guard the find but say the area will be filled up and reopened as soon as the paleontologists are finished.