It was Christmas Day, 2015, and a rural Argentinian Farmer was strolling about his land. However, what he discovered that day changed his life forever.
1. The Discovery
On a Christmas Day stroll, one can expect to see Christmas lights and carolers. However, Jose Antonio Nievas had a different experience. He was walking around his farm, when he noticed a very large object at the edge of a stream, on his property. The object was buried in mud, but this didn’t stop Jose. His curiosity lead him to dig and uncover the object. We can only imagine what he thought he may be uncovering.
2. Big Find In A Small City
The mysterious object was found in a small city called Carlos Spegazzini. The town is located about 25 miles (40km) south of Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires. The city is named in homage to the famous botanist Carlos Luigi Spegazzini. The city is home to both farms and affluent neighborhoods. Although maybe not his forte, we wonder if the famous botanist could have imagined such a find in this city.
3. An Unexpected Find
He had only decided to go out for a second until he was distracted by the large object. From his excitement he had to run home and tell his wife what he had found. His wife told AFP, “My husband went out to the car and when he came back he said, ‘Hey, I just found an egg that looks like it came from a dinosaur. We all laughed because we thought it was a joke.”
4. Calling All Experts
Nievas and his family informed local police about their recent find. However, after police were stumped, it was time to call in the experts. However, the media also heard about the new discovery and wanted to get in on the action. After lots of reports were made, experts began giving their knowledgeable opinion about what was found in the man’s backyard. Nievas and his family were anxious to find out what this large object could be.
5. Two Tons
This massive object weighed two tons and was 3 ft wide. Once media coverage and pictures were dispersed throughout the world, experts, especially archeologists and paleontologists were able to give their two sense on the object. The object was not a large dinosaur egg like Nievas believed but something completely different. However, also an animal that became extinct many, many years ago, around 10,000 to be exact.
6. Answers Revealed
After lots of experts saw the pictures, many were in agreement that the object was the shell of a glyptodont. A glyptodont is an ancestor of the modern day armadillo, which were found all over South America. The were, however, much larger than armadillos and weighed about as much as a small car. It’s shell, or armor, was 2 inches thick (5cm). Each species of glyptodont had a unique pattern on its shell, therefore, easily identified.
7. Could It Be a Hoax?
Many began to doubt the farmer and had said they believe it is a hoax. How could such an object remain so intact if it is so old? Also, as it hasn’t been studied in person by an expert, people feel the shell could easily be a hoax and no one would be able to determine its falsehood. However, Adrian Lister of the Natural History Museum in London, told MailOnline: ‘I think it is quite likely this is genuine.’
8. Proven Real
Alejandro Kramarz of the Bernadino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum also agrees it is a glyptodont, and that it is very common to find their fossils in the same region. Professor Listor of the Natural History Museum in London explained how it was common to find fossil buried in the banks of streams, as the flowing water eventually helps expose the fossils. All reasons which could help prove this case is not a hoax.
9. More On The Discovery
The Glyptodon lived during the Pleistocene epoch, better known as the Ice Age. It is roughly the same size a Volkswagen Beetle, but not as round. There is some evidence that humans may be why Glyptodons went extinct. Scientists believe it is possibly humans hunted them for their outer shell, which they would use as shelter during harsh weather conditions. However, there is no sign the Gylptodonts hunted humans, in return.
10. Gyrptodont Unearthed
As more paleontologists confirmed the discovery, the public began to learn more about this mysterious creature. They lived in South America for millions of years. The shell was used as armour and their tails were used for intraspecies fighting. Although their tails made great weapons, there’s no evidence they used it on any other species. Their tails were also used to attract mates. Their diet mainly consisted of trees and grasses.
11. Very Similar To Modern Day Armadillos
Glyptodonts originally started out much smaller than the one Nievas discovered. However, research shows the mammals evolved from medium size of 80 kilograms, to the megafauna that could reach up to 2,000 kilograms. Through DNA testing, scientists have discovered Glyptodons are part of the Chlamyphoridae family, which is represented today by the dwarf pink fairy armadillo and giant armadillos. Scientist continue to study the DNA and hope to learn more about the animal.
12. Why Nievas’ Farm?
Dr. Ross MacPhee, a curator in the American Museum of Natural History’s Department of Mammalogy, explained when looking at the picture you are looking at the rear of the animal. The head end of the shell is facing the cliff. He also said it is possible the animal might have been buried or dug into the area, where it saw its demise. Glyptodonts lived in South America, gradually spreading north over millions of years, and evolving to what he know as the armadillo.
13. Are There Others?
The glyptodont isn’t the only giant relative of animals we have today. Many see sloths as the slowly and always happy looking small creature. But around the same time the glyptodon roamed the earth, so did the Giant Ground Sloth. Some were the size of elephants, upwards of 20 feet from head to the tip of the tail. However, from scientific research it seems these mega sloths as went extinct due to human occupation in the Americas.
14. New 2016 Discovery
Not to long after Jose Antonio Nievas’s discovery on his farm, a paleontology crew in Uruguay also discovered a glyptodont shell. Two crew members, Dr. Gerardo Haran and his colleague Feliciano Rosas found the shell accidentally, much like Nievas. However, they were searching for fossils, but small ones. The shell they found was 1.77 meters (5.8 ft). We can only expect more will be discovered.
15. A Gold Mine For Fossils
Jose Antonio Nievas wasn’t the only Argentinian to find an oversized fossil. In 2013, The largest creature to have ever walked the earth was discovered. The creature was a dinosaur measuring 130 feet and weighing 77 tons. The enormous bones were discovered by once again, a farm worker, but in the area of Patagonia. The gigantic dinosaur roamed the Patagonian forests 95-100 million years ago.
16. Other Backyard Discoveries
In 1997, a man in Suffolk County, England was digging in his backyard in order to build a fence. He came across a funny looking bone and decided to keep it. It was until 16 years later, that John lambert decided to call his local history museum. The curators at the museum told Lambert the bone was 250-million-years-old and belonged to a Pliosaur. The 16-inch-bone weighs 15 pounds. The Pliosaur is a 65-foot-long water dwelling predator. It is an ancestor of the modern lizard.
17. 4-Year-Old Becomes An Archaeologist
It was supposed to be a fun, normal father-son day. Tim Brys decided to take his son, Wiley, on a fossil hunt at a site of a future shopping center. The father and son were digging around when Wiley made an unexpected discovery. While his father dug in one area, Wiley was feeling adventurous and moved on to a different spot. He returned to his father with a bone. Wiley had found some rare dinosaur bones, that scientists say date back 100 million years!
18. Finders Keepers
Do you now have the feeling that you want to start digging up your backyard. Go for it! In many countries, if you find a fossil on your land – it’s yours! However, in countries like the United States, even if you did all the hard work to dig it out, if you find a fossil on public land, it must be handed over to the correct authorities. The next undiscovered species could be sitting in your backyard – go out there and find it!