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Derek and Justina Stahnke's recent find of mastodon bones in their parents' pasture near Thornburg has increased their interest in fossils and the ancient animals that once roamed this country. These two bones, which have turned to stone, probably are the mastodon's knee joint.

The first information of this find appeared in the May 27, 1993 edition of The Smith County Pioneer. The June 3, 1993 copy carried the picture above and the article below.

Mastodon, horse bones something of a mystery.

Experts from Fort Hays State University collect samples at Stahnke farm.

How old are the mastodon bones? How did the variety of fossilized animal remains come to rest in a northern Smith County pasture? These are questions that will remain a mystery, at least for the time being.

Two Fort Hays State University professors viewed the site at the Glen and Lori Stahnke farm early last week, and gathered more samples and visited with the Stahnkes.

"One of the guys was a botanist and was looking for petrified seeds. He found sone from a hackberry tree," Lori Stahnke said. "Besides the mastodon bones, they also took some of the bones of the horse (perhaps a three-toed horse), and also found the shell of a tortoise, which was crumbling."

The professors hoped to return to the site with other people to uncover more of the remains. However, that may not be done for several months.

"They wrapped some of the pieces and covered them back in the sand," Lori said.

The professors were interesting to visit with, she said. They were eager to answer questions from the Stahnke children and to point out details about the fossilized bones.

"They didn't know how all of these different animals got here, whether they were washed in, or if there was a water hole that they fell in. It's hard to say," she said.