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Tennessee fossil bones may be mastodon's

Nashville) -- Bones found in a Tennessee backyard may be those of a mastodon and tools recovered may be those of prehistoric Americans, researchers say.

Archaeologists and Middle Tennessee State University students have dug a trench about 10 feet deep in the clay of a suburban Williamson County backyard and found bone fragments and stones possibly used as axes, The (Nashville) Tennessean reported Tuesday.

"People overlook Tennessee when it comes to archaeology," said Tanya Peres, MTSU associate professor of anthropology. "There's some really amazing archaeology here. Maybe this is the kind of thing that will get into schoolbooks."

The team says it believes it has found bones of a mastodon, an elephant-like creature with massive tusks related to woolly mammoths.

If the dig's findings are authenticated, researchers hope the site will be designated on the National Register of Historic Places as an archaeological resource.

Only a handful of sites in North America have yielded mastodon fossils, researchers say.

"There's a limited number of animals that were alive 12,000 years ago that could have had bones this big," state Prehistoric Archaeologist Aaron Deter-Wolf said, displaying a bone from the dig. "Odds are really good that it's mastodon."

Copyright 2010 United Press International

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