Washington, May 26 : Paleontologists have unearthed a fossilized bone fragment of an ancient camel species that last roamed the Earth 10,000 years ago, in southeast Gilbert in Arizona, US.
According to a report in the East Valley Tribune, since the late 1990s, researchers have found four fossilized bone fragments in Gilbert. Two of those finds have been identified as Columbian mammoths - less hairy, larger relatives of woolly mammoths.
But to scientists, a fossilized bone fragment discovered at the site of a future water treatment facility in southeast Gilbert in March may be the most significant find in the area.
The bone was found about a mile and a half from where construction crews found "Tuskers," a fossilized mammoth discovered about two years ago that became a virtual town mascot.
Mort Moosavy, an inspector with Carollo Engineers assigned to the project, noticed the whitish bone fragments that contrasted with the surrounding reddish soil.
According to Moosavy, the pieces first looked like examples of ancient pottery lying toward the bottom of a 15-foot-deep trench, until he took a closer look.
"Immediately I knew it was a fossilized bone," he said.
He contacted area researchers, who eventually connected him with McCord at the Arizona Museum of Natural History.
The bone fragment is now believed to come from the left distal humerus - upper arm bone - of the ancient Camelops, an extinct species of camels.
"It probably looked a heck of a lot like a modern camel," said paleontologist Robert McCord. "A really big modern camel though," he added.
The camel grew to about 7 feet tall at its shoulders and appeared in the late Pliocene epoch, which extended from about 5 million years ago to nearly 2 million years ago. It survived until about 10,000 years ago, during the Earth's last ice age.