[…] of the discovery, neither Sparks nor his parents, who were biking nearby, recognized the skeletal remains of the million-year-old creature preserved in the desert sands of Las Cruces. When their internet search provided no definitive answers, they emailed Peter Houde, a biology professor at New Mexico State University (NMSU). A day after Sparks’ fortuitous stumble, Houde headed out with the family to take a closer look and confirmed that the skull “is really very unusual to find,” he revealed in an interview with the New York Times. According to the newspaper, prehistoric fossils usually break down after exposure to the elements, but the Sparks were fortunate to have discovered the skull just after strong rains made it visible to the naked eye. “Erosion is a paleontologist’s best friend,” Spencer Lucas, curator of paleontology at the new Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, explained to National Geographic.