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Resting in pieces

Staff reports

It’s not very often that a 3 million-year-old mastodon makes the front page of The Record-Courier. In fact, even our most veteran employees can’t recall the last time we reported on the hairy mammal.

It was exciting this week to note the recovery of animal bones from a remote area in the Pine Nut Mountains. And, disheartening at the same time, to report the site had been vandalized and people are taking things that don’t belong to them.

This week, officials from the Bureau of Land Management verified that the site is on their property, BLM regulations are very clear about what can be removed from the public lands. It is illegal to collect vertebrate fossils without a permit and violators will be prosecuted.

Maybe we’re naive to think that everyone will respect the mighty mastodon’s final resting place or take their cue from the boys who found the site last week.

Besides the mastodon, the heroes of the story have to be Derek Prosser and Dustin Turner, who found the bones while motorcycling and had the sense to report their discovery to the BLM.

That set in motion a chain of events which eventually will lead to removal of the fossils to a safe site, perhaps a museum where everyone can learn from the ancient animal who shared the hills above Carson Valley with giant camels, gophers, deer, squirrels, even an extinct bear!

We think the discovery should have a name. After all, there is the Kenniwick man, and “Lucy,” the skeletal remains of a female hominid found in Ethiopia.

So far, we’ve come up with “Pine Nut Patty” and “Murray the Mastodon.” Surely, you can do better. Please forward your suggestions, and let the poor beast rest in peace.