Prehistoric jawbone found in Brighton couple's backyard

By Jamel Major - bio | email

BRIGHTON, TN (WMC-TV) - A Brighton couple received quite a shock when they tried to install a new swimming pool in their backyard: the jawbone of a pre-historic animal.

The strange and unusual discovery caught Jim Leyden and his wife by surprise.

"My wife called and said, 'You're not going to believe it.  They can't do anything with the pool,'" Leyden said. "I'm thinking, what happened?"

It was no mistake - as contractors dug a hole to install the Leydens' new pool, they discovered a set of rare bones.

"They found a dinosaur," Leyden said.

Well, not exactly. Excavators believe the two-foot long jawbone may have belonged to a close relative of the mastodon called a trilophodon, an mammal which resembles an elephant.

Many believe it to be the first time such a discovery has been made in the Mid-South.  A fossil of the animal was most recently found in Texas.

David Mason with Affordable Pool Contractors found the fossil while putting in a drain line for the pool.

"When I dug into the dirt, something cracked," he said. "A little piece of tooth fell out. It had a pearl white look to it."

The bones, which could be more than 30,000 years old, were fairly well preserved.  Blown away by the attention the unusual discovery has gotten, the Leydens plan to donate the pones to the Pink Palace Museum in Memphis.

"That's our plan - to let the Pink Palace have it," Leyden said. "What am I going to do with it?  Keep it around?  My wife might throw it at me."

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