GARDNERVILLE, Nev. — Bones found by two teenage boys who were riding motorcycles in the Pine Nut Mountains may be those of a 3 million-year-old mastodon.
A retired paleontologist who examined the bones said they appear to date to the Pliocene epoch, according to Gary C. Bowyer, a historical archeologist with the Bureau of Land Management.
Derek Prosser and a friend, Dustin Turner, were riding their motorcycles last week when they found the site.
Prosser collected several pieces of bone, including one that resembles a huge ball joint, and took them to his residence, where Bowyer looked at them Tuesday before heading to the site.
"These are definitely not cow bones," he said. "They're huge."
Bowyer said this was his first experience with a large animal fossil. A 7.5 million-year-old fossil, identified as a gomphothere, was found south of Yerington in 1995.
Bowyer said the site is being monitored by BLM law enforcement officers to protect it from vandalism.
Vertebrate fossils are legally protected and may be collected only with a permit.