Boys Find Mastodon Bone Along Stream in Shelby Township

Two 11-year-old boys will go down in Macomb County's artifact history after discovering an American Mastodon bone near 24 Mile and Dequindre roads in Shelby Township, Michigan.

It’s nearly every young, adventurous boy’s dream to stumble upon a prehistoric fossil while playing in his backyard.

For an 11-year-old Shelby Township boy, Eric Stamatin and his cousin Andrew Gainariu, 11, that dream came true this summer.

On a warm June day, the boys were hoping to find crayfish while exploring a stream about a quarter of a mile from Stamatin's house on 24 Mile and Dequindre roads. Instead, they stumbled upon an American Mastodon bone.

“At first it just looked like a rock but it had a hole in it so we thought maybe it was a bone,” said Stamatin.

The boy’s family sent a picture of the bone to Cranbrook Institute to be examined. John Zawiskie geologist with Cranbrook later identified it as the axis bone of the extinct American Mastodon.

“The axis is one of two specialized vertebrae that secure the head to the vertebral column, and judging from the size of this find the animal was probably an adult around 8 or 9 feet high at the shoulders and weighing roughly 6 tons,” said Zawiskie.

The mastodon bone is likely between 13,000 and 14,000 years old.

The boys led an archaeological team from Cranbrook back to the spot where they found the bone, but no more artifacts were found.

The stream where the bone was found, near 24 Mile Road and Dequindre Road in Shelby Township, cuts through sand and gravel of an old glacial lake plain and is very near the source of the Middle Branch of the Clinton River. Stephen Pagnani with Cranbrook Institute said mastodon bones are normally found near boggy areas and where there is a lot of sand and gravel.

Mastodons are furry elephant-like mammals, and are close relatives to the woolly mammoth.

They lived about 3.7 million years ago until they became extinct at the end of the last glacial period around 10,000 years ago.

Zawiskie said this is the fourth record of an American Mastodon to be found in Macomb County. Nearly 2/3 of an American Mastodon was found in neighborhing Rochester, on Adams Road, back in 2006. Road crews unearthed a three-pound molar, tusk and leg bone, among other bones.

“It’s a common archaeological find, but it’s still a fun one,” said Pagnani.

Nothing Like a Prehistoric Show and Tell

Stamatin, a Roberts Elementary School student, showcased his great find at school on Friday, according to Utica Community Schools.

"This has been a wonderful experience. He's been struggling in school and this has helped him with self-confidence and inspired him to learn more about science," said Christina Stamatin.

Pagnani said the bone is the boys' to keep. Christina Stamatin said she will allow her son to decide whether or not he'll donate the bone to a museum or keep it. However, she will advise him to donate it. 

More than 211 mastodons have been discovered in the southern portion of the Lower Peninsula, and the mastodon is Michigan’s state fossil.

To learn more about mastodons, visit the permanent exhibit at Cranbrook Institute of Science. Investigating Michigan’s Winter—Both Past and Present begins Dec. 26 through 30 from 1 to 4 p.m. each day.

For more information on Cranbrook, visit www.science.cranbrook.edu.

Follow the Shelby-Utica Patch on Facebook.

macombresident December 18, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Not sure why in the world there are all the negative comments on a feel good story about two young boys finding something pretty cool while outside (instead of playing video games) but whatever, guess people will always find something to complain about. Congrats boys...very awesome thing to find!
don kilborn December 30, 2012 at 10:08 AM
wtg nice find....
The Watcher December 30, 2012 at 12:42 PM
If you really believe all those dates, I have some other good stories for you...
David Sparks December 30, 2012 at 05:44 PM
I do think it's a Great story, but i also think instead of donateing it, they should be recieve some money for it in case they decide to futher their edecation.
J Anderson December 30, 2012 at 07:13 PM
The sad part is this: This was great for these kids. In Africa, they are killing and eating or poaching many species. In 100 years, several will be gone because of humans. We have hunted several species to death, like the Passenger Pigeon in the USA. This is part of a chain of life and once a link is broken, other species disappear.
Judy Jorgenson December 30, 2012 at 07:47 PM
My father years ago while traveling in Alaska found a Mastodon's tooth (molar) and it is amazing. I show it to my students every year during dental month, the tooth is big and black with petrified roots and is very heavy....the Inuit person he was traveling with got the ivory tusk...wish he could have kept that too.
Dawn December 30, 2012 at 11:06 PM
What a wonderful experience in a child's life. These two young boys have experienced nature and it's facinating primative period of time. I have read this thread, and I do not understand how politics, skepticism, ridicule of one of the boy's mothers, has anything to do with this incredible experience. Put your political thoughts away. Put your judgments aside, put your psedo-intellectual selves which enable you feel you are better than those who comment with poor grammar, aside. Rejoice that two young boys have a memory of scientic wonderment, and are willing to share.
Dawn December 30, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Oh, Maureen, you spelled Grammar incorrectly.
Anton December 30, 2012 at 11:41 PM
How does a bone like this sit for so long in a populated area without being discovered? Truely amazing, glad they found it, maybe there will do some digs around the area and find more.
D. Rodgers December 31, 2012 at 02:53 AM
Interesting that you would mention it because the first person who found massive amounts of bones and fossils in N. American was an 11 year old girl in the 1800's She sold them and got rich. She's supposedly the character in the tongue twister - "she sells sea shells by the sea shore".
Kay Bullard December 31, 2012 at 04:17 AM
I am sure glad you read it before. I'm one that had not read the story and I think the boys did something you could not do when you were their age.
isaac December 31, 2012 at 04:46 PM
i love it
ivan December 31, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Its wonderful to read a story about what wishfully all 11 year old boys could be doing, fishing , exploring the woods and streams and enjoying what should be the most fun years in all children's lives .
leonard federico December 31, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Today I read a great many of these dinosaur bone stories. I cannot believe the way adults write and spell and use poor grammar ! Many must have been gazing out the window during the school day.
John December 31, 2012 at 06:28 PM
The puzzling thing about this to me is how do they know it is 11,000 years old. There hasn't been time to carbon test it. Also, carbon 14 has a half life of 5700 years, so how could you possibly verify any carbon 14 remaining in the bone structure is older than that.
Betty December 31, 2012 at 08:08 PM
When my sister was in the 7th grade, she and our cousin went way way back in the woods, metal detecting... at some old home site.. part of the chimney was still there.... they tore it down the rest of the way and found an old civil war sword. She took it to school to "show and tell" and the sword promptly disappeared. My father was PISSED. We always felt sure that the teacher himself was the one who took it. How else does it disappear the same day right out of his classroom? It don't.
MAINSTMOBIL December 31, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Awesome, The kids will never remember any video game things they did but they'll talk about this forever.
Danielle Balio December 31, 2012 at 10:28 PM
HUFF POST SUCKS! So it's not no big deal, if something is SLOW and mis -reported, probablay is them! They are too interested in throwing out all those ads, slowing me down. Your comment has cause!
Darlene January 01, 2013 at 12:41 AM
Oh to Gary Lee, Those boys cannot be charged with a crime for finding that Mastadon bone, what is wrong with you. Read the laws. obtw I'am a fossil hunter.
Darlene January 01, 2013 at 12:43 AM
It is called erosion
Darlene January 01, 2013 at 12:48 AM
Scientist, paleontologists do this for a living, they can most likely tell the age by just looking at it and where it was found, and from other fossils that have been found in that area. many years of experience. I'am a fossil hunter.
Darlene January 01, 2013 at 12:54 AM
It was not a dinosaur bone they found, It was a Mammut americanum, Mastodon. big furry elephants with big long tusks.
David Ker January 01, 2013 at 03:00 AM
Stamatin? His cousin Gainarlu? Mr. Zawiski? Mr. Pagnani? Dequindre Road? What planet is this? I think this is a scam.
Nancy Susan Albright January 01, 2013 at 03:33 AM
wiliam m. your penmanship is truly pitiful. maybe you should have found something NEWSWORTHY when you were young. it might have inspired you to be better educated. i admire these young boys who found this bone and how they handled it. nobody ever can take dreams away from you.
Smithcj January 01, 2013 at 05:30 AM
interesting...... just because we're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not after us.
Smithcj January 01, 2013 at 05:36 AM
Well, you'd think that a Washingtonian mastodon would have had a better education than that........perhaps he missed his geology class
Smithcj January 01, 2013 at 05:37 AM
Smithcj January 01, 2013 at 05:40 AM
TV was invented to show commercials....it was not actually invented for entertainment.... the only reason there are shows and movies on television is so you will stick around for the commercials. Research the reason that day time shows were named "SOAP operas" .... it's interesting
Smithcj January 01, 2013 at 05:40 AM
and your point is ........ ????
Smithcj January 01, 2013 at 05:50 AM


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