By Tim Binnall
A six-year-old Michigan boy who was exploring a nature preserve with his family stumbled upon a rather remarkable find from the distant past in the form of a rare mastodon tooth. Julian Gagnon reportedly made the discovery in early September when his parents took him hiking at the Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve in the community of Rochester Hills. During the excursion, the youngster waded into a creek at the preserve and noticed that his foot had brushed up against something odd in the water. "I grabbed it up," the tot recalled, "and it kind of looked like a tooth." In fact, the imaginative youngster initially suspected that he had discovered a dragon's tooth, which prompted Gagnon to wonder if he might have just struck it rich.
"At first I thought I was going to get money," the boy amusingly recalled, "I was gonna get a million dollars." His parents were, understandably, skeptical about their son's assessment, but after some debate over whether or not he should just leave it in the water, they decided to let him bring the odd object home with him. It was there that they got a better look at the curious find and soon they began to wonder if it really was some kind of ancient wonder.A subsequent examination by experts at the University of Michigan's Museum of Paleontology determined that while the discovery was not from a mythical dragon nor worth a king's ransom, it was in fact a genuine tooth from a mastodon that roamed the region around 12,000 years ago.
Scientists say that the find was significant in the sense that it is fairly rare for such material to survive for so long. After learning of the true nature of his object, Gagnon decided to donate it to the museum with one important caveat. His mother laughingly explained to a local media outlet that the boy was "very, very specifically concerned that he wanted to make sure he was credited as the discoverer of the mastodon tooth. That was very important to him that I relate that to the paleontologists." Fortunately for Gagnon, the museum agreed to his very reasonable request and the boy will also receive a special behind-the-scenes tour of the facility sometime later this month.