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9 things parents can say to defuse a meltdown with compassion.

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When your toddler has a meltdown, it’s perfectly natural to want to fly off the handle.

There’s nothing more infuriating than a small human repeatedly demanding something that’s physically impossible for you to give them or wailing because you had to punish them after repeatedly telling them to knock it off.

"I CREATED YOU, YOU LITTLE MONSTER. I CAN DESTROY YOU," you might want to say (though you never would). You love your kids, of course you do, but damn if they aren’t the best at pushing you to your breaking point.

As tempting as it may be to raise your voice, yell, and keep ramping up the punishment to ridiculous levels, some parenting experts say there’s a much better option.

Vanessa Lapointe, a mom and professional psychologist, suggests something called "discipline without damage."

Sometimes called "compassionate parenting," Lapointe defines this practice as an intervention that reinforces connection, not separation. In other words, staying calm and kind while setting firm boundaries for kids in a way that doesn’t dampen their spirits or preach obedience above all else.

This isn’t just some new-agey, feel good stuff: Lapointe says it’s all based on science and the way children’s brains develop.

"Our job as parents is to grow up children who are hardy. Not children who are hardened," she explained in an essay for The Huffington Post. "Children who are hardy can weather the storms of life. Children who are hardened cannot, and instead tend to shut down and have ineffective coping strategies."

Lapointe recently released a nifty "Discipline Cheat Sheet" that offers some simple changes to the words we use when faced with a meltdown that can completely change the tenor of the situation for the better.

Graphic via Vanessa Lapointe, used with permission.

Here’s how this technique might play out.

Say your toddler colored on the wall with bright green crayon.

Instead of screeching something along the lines of "What were you thinking?!??!" Lapointe recommends using a kind and compassionate tone and saying something more like, "You know I don’t want you coloring on the walls. We need to get this cleaned up."

"No!" your kid might respond, with a stomp of a tiny foot. "I don’t want to!"

"Come on," you say, keeping your voice calm. "I’ll show you where the cleaning supplies are and help you get started."

Now, ideally, that would be enough. Your toddler would calm down and gladly help you clean the walls. When it comes to toddlers, however, parents know things are rarely that easy.

What if by then he’s too upset and has thrown himself to the ground in protest, banging fists against the floor? Instead of finally breaking and losing your temper, it’s time to try a different tactic from the cheat sheet.

"I can see this is tricky for you. We’re going to solve this later. Let’s get a drink of water," you can say.

He may agree or not. But eventually, he will calm down (every parent knows that they always do), and you can show him how to get the crayon off the wall.

When the wall is finally clean, turn to him and say, "Let’s find a better place to keep your coloring supplies so this doesn’t happen again."

The whole conflict may take a while, and you may have to go back to the cheat sheet to try many of these different techniques, but in the end, you get what you want (a clean wall) without yelling at, frightening, or physically forcing your toddler to clean it up. At the same time, your kid learns that their actions have consequences.

The reality is that most toddlers are nearly psychologically incapable of impulse control. No amount of yelling or being a strict disciplinarian can change the wiring of their brains. And though the phrases in the chart above are best for young children, the same principles of compassionate parenting apply to older kids, too.

The chart has been shared far and wide across the web, though Lapointe’s approach isn’t without its critics.

Some parents worry that her recommendations feel an awful lot like "helicopter parenting" and isn’t strong enough to teach kids about independence and feeling the consequences of their actions.

Lapointe says these people are missing the point. She spells out the difference:

"The hoverer is worried, nervous, and uncertain, and prevents their child from ever having to come to terms with the things in life that simply cannot be. The provider is confident, all-knowing, and in charge, and supports the child in regulating around their upset in coming to terms with the things in life that cannot be. "

She urges parents to remember that kids are kids and not to expect them to understand the world as adults do.

Compassionate parenting is more than just a few handy phrases.

The phrases on Lapointe’s cheat sheet are a great first step for reframing the way we react when our kids start misbehaving, but they’re not the only tool a compassionate parent can keep in their back pocket. For parents looking for an alternative to punishment and escalating behavior, however, Lapointe’s cheat sheet could be just the help they need to stay calm in the face of a toddler tornado.

Though easier said than done, a simple, "Come here, I’ve got you," could be exactly what your kid needs to hear.

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30 things people don’t realize you’re doing because of your depression.

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Do any of these speak to you?

This story was originally published on The Mighty.

Most people imagine depression equals “really sad,” and unless you’ve experienced depression yourself, you might not know it goes so much deeper than that. Depression expresses itself in many different ways, some more obvious than others. While some people have a hard time getting out of bed, others might get to work just fine — it’s different for everyone.

To find out how depression shows itself in ways other people can’t see, we asked The Mighty mental health community to share one thing people don’t realize they’re doing because they have depression.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. “In social situations, some people don’t realize I withdraw or don’t speak much because of depression. Instead, they think I’m being rude or purposefully antisocial.” — Laura B.

2. “I struggle to get out of bed, sometimes for hours. Then just the thought of taking a shower is exhausting. If I manage to do that, I am ready for a nap. People don’t understand, but anxiety and depression is exhausting, much like an actual physical fight with a professional boxer.” — Juli J.

3. “Agreeing to social plans but canceling last minute. Using an excuse but really you just chickened out. It makes you think your friends don’t actually want to see you, they just feel bad. Obligation.” — Brynne L.

4. “Hiding in my phone. Yes, I am addicted to it, but not like other people. I don’t socialize, I play games or browse online stores to distract myself from my negative thoughts. It’s my safe bubble.” — Eveline L.

5. “Going to bed at 9 p.m. and sleeping throughout the night until 10 or 11 a.m.” — Karissa D.

6. “Isolating myself, not living up to my potential at work due to lack of interest in anything, making self-deprecating jokes. I’ve said many times before, ‘I laugh, so that I don’t cry.’ Unfortunately, it’s all too true.” — Kelly K.

7. “When I reach out when I’m depressed it’s ’cause I am wanting to have someone to tell me I’m not alone. Not because I want attention.” — Tina B.

8. “I don’t like talking on the phone. I prefer to text. Less pressure there. Also being anti-social. Not because I don’t like being around people, but because I’m pretty sure everyone can’t stand me.” — Meghan B.

9. “I overcompensate in my work environment… and I work front line at a Fitness Centre, so I feel the need to portray an ‘extra happy, bubbly personality.’ As soon as I walk out the doors at the end of the day, I feel myself ‘fall.’ It’s exhausting… I am a professional at hiding it.” — Lynda H.

10. “The excessive drinking. Most people assume I’m trying to be the ‘life of the party’ or just like drinking in general. I often get praised for it. But my issues are much deeper than that.” — Teresa A.

11. “Hiding out in my room for hours at a time watching Netflix or Hulu to distract my mind or taking frequent trips to the bathroom or into another room at social gatherings because social situations sometimes get to me.” — Kelci F.

12. “Saying I’m tired or don’t feel good… they don’t realize how much depression can affect you physically as well as emotionally.” — Lauren G.

13. “Answering slowly. It makes my brain run slower, and I can’t think of the answers to the questions as quickly. Especially when someone is asking what I want to do — I don’t really want anything. I isolate myself so I don’t have to be forced into a situation where I have to respond because it’s exhausting.” — Erin W.

14. “Sometimes I’ll forget to eat all day. I can feel my stomach growling but don’t have the willpower to get up and make something to eat.” — Kenzi I.

15. “I don’t talk much in large groups of people, especially when I first meet them. I withdraw because of my anxiety and depression. People think I’m ‘stuck up.’ I’m actually scared out of my mind worrying they don’t like me, or that they think I’m ‘crazy’ by just looking at me…” — Hanni W.

16. “Not keeping in touch with anyone, bad personal hygiene and extremely bad reactions to seemingly trivial things.” — Jenny B.

17. “Being angry, mean or rude to people I love without realizing it in the moment. I realize my actions and words later and feel awful I had taken out my anger on people who don’t deserve it.” — Christie C.

18. “Purposely working on the holidays so I can avoid spending time with family. It’s overwhelming to be around them and to talk about the future and life so I avoid it.” — Aislinn G.

19. “My house is a huge mess.” — Cynthia H.

20. “I volunteer for everything, from going to PTO meetings to babysitting to cleaning someone else’s house for them. I surround myself with situations and obligations that force me to get out of bed and get out of the house because if I’m not needed, I won’t be wanted.” — Carleigh W.

21. “Overthinking everything and over-planning. The need to make everything perfect and everyone happy, even if it’s taking all my energy. As if validation from someone else will make it all better. Sometimes I start out on high power, then just crash and don’t even enjoy what I’ve spent weeks/months planning. And no one will see me for months after, as I retreat into my safe bubble.” — Vicki G.

22. “I smile all the time even though I don’t really want to, but I do it because I don’t feel like I’m allowed to be sad when I’m with other people. I also do whatever it takes to make someone else happy because since I don’t feel happy most of the time, it just makes me feel a little better seeing someone else happy. I also isolate myself even though sometimes I really just want someone around.” — Wendy E.

23. “People don’t realize I say sorry before I even think about expressing any opinions because that’s how worthless I feel. I’m apologizing for feeling anything about anything because that’s how little I feel I matter. They don’t just know I feel like apologizing for even breathing in their general direction. I even say I’m sorry before asking to use the bathroom no matter how long I’ve held it. I feel like a burden for biological needs I have no control over.” — Amy Y.

24. “Neglecting to do basic things like laundry, not wanting to cook a meal or eat. They think I’m being lazy.” — Rebecca R.

25. “Sometimes I’ll go days without speaking to anybody. People tend to believe I’m ignoring them on purpose when really I am just lost within myself. I don’t mean to seem like I’m pushing people away. Some days it’s hard when my thoughts consume me and when I can’t find the motivation to do simple things that others do on a daily basis.” — Alyssa A.

26. “People don’t realize I can’t say no without feeling guilty. I have to have a good enough reason for everything I do. I guess it’s customary to try and convince someone to change their answer, but people have no idea how much it takes for me to say no in the first place. I feel worthless so much that I feel guilty for even thinking of putting my needs or wants first. Then I just feel like a doormat when I cave into the pressure. It’s a never-ending cycle.” — Amy Y.

27. “I push away/cut off everyone who I care about because I can’t bear to be hurt by them! Everyone just thinks I’m mean and anti-social.” — Tina R.

28. “Going for late night walks by myself. My depression keeps me awake at night and my thoughts can get so overwhelming I feel physically crowded inside. Late night walks help me quiet the screaming in my head.” — Lynnie L.

29. “I have often been accused of having ‘no sense of humor.’ So wrong. Before depression took over my life, I smiled and laughed as much as the next person. Now, having lived with depression for over 15 years, the humor I find in a joke or situation is rarely visible on my face or heard in my laugh. I feel humor, but it’s just too much effort to express it. I don’t have the energy.” — Martha W.

30. “Keeping the house dark is a comfort thing for me. People always point it out, like, ‘No wonder you’re so depressed. You need to let some light in.’ Darkness in my living space makes me feel comfortable, almost like I’m not alone. Good days, I’m all about the sunshine!” — Michelle T.

This story was originally published on The Mighty and is republished here with permission. The Mighty is a platform for people facing health challenges to share their stories and connect. Enter your email here, and they’ll send you their best stories each week.

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What one mom wants you to know about stressing less when your teen takes the wheel.

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As a mother to three boys, I was nervous about teaching them to take the wheel.

When my boys were small, I was obsessively careful and perpetually worried as they approached each developmental milestone. When they learned to walk, I watched carefully and tried not to let them fall. When they started school, I worried that they wouldn’t make friends right away. When they started playing sports, I spent a lot of time hoping they wouldn’t get hurt.

When they were little, it never occurred to me that we’d spend a better part of the teenage years teaching and worrying about each of them as they became new drivers.

But one after the other, they turned 16, got their permits, and looked to me to help teach them how to become responsible drivers.

My first baby is now a licensed driver!

A post shared by Tina Plantamura (@teenah_p) on

Today, my oldest son is 20 years old and has been driving for three years. My middle son, 18, has been a licensed driver for almost 16 months. and in less than a year our “baby,” now 15, will have his driver’s permit.

And while I’m not through this process of teaching them all to drive just yet, the good news is that with each one, it got easier. Not only did they learn to drive safely, but I also learned some important lessons about how to make the process less stressful for both of us. I know that these lessons are bound to help me with my youngest when the time comes to teach him to drive too. They might even be helpful for other parents too.

Here are five things I learned from the experience of teaching my kids to drive:

1.  Don’t worry if it takes awhile.

In the beginning, it took my sons longer to have the confidence to do things that seasoned drivers don’t even think about. It took longer for them to accelerate to the appropriate speed or to make that left turn or parallel park.

It’s a lot like when they first started walking: each took their time and had different methods of keeping their balance. Behind the wheel, it’s the same. I now know that each child will have different apprehensions and challenges, and that time and patience (and practice on safe, quiet roads) will help a new driver build confidence.

Photo by Alejandro Salinas via iStock

2. Encourage more than discourage.

Positive reinforcement goes a long way with a new driver. Rather than constantly saying “watch out!” or audibly gasping while he’s behind the wheel and I’m in the passenger’s seat, I’m make a conscious effort to tell him what he was doing right. Telling him what he did wrong can be done in a constructive way too.

3. Let others guide them.

Friends, siblings, and cousins can be great resources. Talking about their experiences resonates in a certain way that a parental voice doesn’t. Young people often receive advice from peers and siblings better.

4. Remember that all of us were new drivers once.

Most of us managed just fine during those first few years while our parents cringed in the passenger’s seat or worried while watching through the window at home.

New drivers can become great drivers when parents and other mentors are caring and confident. When kids grow up and get ready to take the wheel, I now know I need to show them more confidence than fear.

In the same way I patiently waited for my sons to sound out words as they learned to read and ride their bikes without training wheels, I need to allow them to go at their own pace in getting comfortable behind the wheel.

The author’s three sons.

5. Trust that they’ll find their way … with a little guidance.

Just like his brothers before him, I will remember that no matter how hard it is at first, my "baby" is going to learn to be good, responsible driver in no time. In a few years, all the worrying is going to be behind me, and I’m sure he’ll be ready to drive me everywhere.

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How a father-daughter duo is bringing joy to people’s lives by doing what they love.

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Each holiday season, father-daughter team Ty and Vicky Shen pull out their trusty map and deliver delicious meals to people in need.

Vicky (left) and Ty Shen. Image via Vicky Shen, used with permission.

Once they’ve planned out their route, they load up their station wagon with all the hot meals and holiday baskets they can fit and then drive around Massachusetts — going door to door until their car is empty. They do this over and over all day until there’s nothing left to be delivered.

"I’ve been a firm believer that those who can help, should," writes Ty in an email. "Regardless if it’s time or other resources, helping our fellow man is our responsibility."

That’s why, in 2001, Ty and Vicky decided to start this tradition in the first place. They loved volunteering, and Community Servings, a local nonprofit food program, was the perfect choice since they could share the open road together and, most importantly, bring joy to people’s lives.

Community Servings provides medically tailored meals to individuals and families living with critical and chronic illnesses.

With 15 different medical diets on their menu, clients across Massachusetts and Rhode Island receive the perfect nutrition combination for their specific health conditions right on their doorstep. On top of that, Community Servings also provides supplementary meals for caregivers and dependent children to make sure every tummy in the house is filled up daily.

Volunteers happily hard at work. Image via Community Servings, used with permission.

Vicky fell in love with the cause when she first entered their kitchen some 16 years ago as a corps member of City Year Boston — an education-focused student support organization. Once she learned about the holiday deliveries, she knew she needed to get her family involved right then and there. After all, the spirit of helping others, Ty says, runs in Vicky’s veins.

"Volunteering with [Community Servings] with my dad is one of my favorite things to do," writes Vicky. "I get to spend time with my dad, and the people at [Community Servings] who are so wonderful, and really do something that on a daily basis helps people’s lives be a little bit better. "

And since they’ve started, they’ve done everything from chopping cabbage to chatting up guests to prepping the actual baskets. Whatever’s needed, they’re right there, ready to push the mission forward.

Delivering holiday meals in style. Image via Community Servings, used with permission.

Community Servings offers an important and much-needed service — and it wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of all their volunteers.

"Each year, our volunteers give more than 55,000 hours of service, which is the equivalent to almost 30 full time employees," explains Community Servings CEO David Waters in an email. "There’s no way we’d be able to serve the 1,850 individuals and families we do each year without their generous efforts."

In fact, thanks to their volunteers, Community Servings is able to prep 2,200 made-from-scratch meals every day. And just this past January, they celebrated their 7 millionth meal. (That’s right. 7 million!)

8 million meals, here we come. Image via Community Servings, used with permission.

For everyone who hits the road for Community Servings, it’s all about bringing joy to as many people as possible.

So whether you’re a college student, retiree, parolee, or corporate professional, all Community Servings asks for is a shared passion for service. That’s the heart of their mission and exactly why Ty and Vicky got involved to begin with.

Vicky goes on to add, "My involvement in [Community Servings] has been one of the pieces of my life that has made me realize how important it is to try to make a difference and make the world a better place every day."

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A high schooler came up with a genius way to help prevent sunburns at the pool.

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The residents of Clayton, Missouri, can expect fewer sunburns at the pool this summer, thanks to a timely and brilliant idea from a local high school student.

16-year-old Lynly Brennan raised about $1,600 to install sunscreen dispensers at three community pools to the delight of many her neighbors (and, presumably, their dermatologists).

One of the sunscreen dispensers. Photo via Patty DeForrest.

Brennan got the idea after researching the risks of tanning beds for an English project in school.

"I realized how common skin cancer is and how easily preventable it is," Brennan says. Melanoma was one of the 10 most common invasive cancers in Missouri in 2014, the last year for which data is available.

The rising Nerinx Hall High School junior ordered the dispensers through IMPACT Melanoma, a national nonprofit, and BrightGuard, which manufactures the free-standing equipment. Dozens of friends, neighbors, and members of the community who were intrigued by the project chipped in.

Patty DeForrest, Clayton director of parks and recreation, had already gotten several calls from salespeople trying to sell the dispensers when Brennan approached her with the idea. Lacking the budget to purchase them herself, she was "happy to say yes."

"Lynly really made it happen," DeForrest explains.

The dispensers have been a hit so far, perhaps most especially with members of the Ohio State University water polo team — in town for an annual tournament — who had forgotten their sunscreen at home.

Water polo players presumably enjoying not getting sunburned. Photo via Shaw Park Aquatic Center/Facebook.

"[They] told me I was their ‘hero,’" Brennan says.

Brennan hopes to expand the dispenser program to other pools in the area.

"I think this will be a nice way for us to see if this is something the community would appreciate," DeForrest says.

The Shaw Park Aquatic Center. Photo via Shaw Park Aquatic Center/Facebook.

With temperatures in Clayton this weekend expected to exceed 100 degrees and a heat wave expected to last throughout the week, Brennan’s flash of inspiration couldn’t have come at a better time to save residents plenty of pain, doctor visits, and aloe.

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Why ‘Eating the Frog’ Isn’t the Best Productivity Strategy and What to Do Instead

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If you spend any length of time reading productivity articles, you will eventually come across the concept of accomplishing your hardest task first in the course of your day, otherwise known as ‘eating the frog’. The idea is that it is best to tackle the more difficult projects when you are fresh and have plenty of willpower, before the day runs away from you.

Plenty of articles list the benefits of eating the frog first, and for some people diving straight into work can be a great strategy. Even knowing the benefits, it can still be a challenge to implement this strategy for maximum productivity.

One issue with ‘eating the frog’ is that while on paper (or the internet) it can seem like a no brainer; in reality it can be quite difficult to engage with your most challenging project first thing if you have not trained your brain for deep focus. Even if you intend to work first thing on the most difficult task, distractions have a way of creeping into our thoughts and very quickly derailing what was supposed to be an incredibly productive workday.

This is the nature of who we are as human beings. We have evolved to pay attention to our environment, but nowadays it has become negative with consistent vibrations of a smartphone or the tap tap on a keyboard.

To keep distractions at bay, start to develop a practice of focus. This will make ‘eating the frog’ easier to do on a regular basis. You can start to retrain your brain by engaging in simple planning at the beginning of each day. With this in mind, you can ease into the day, otherwise the levels of stress hormones that peak right before waking never quite go down and we are constantly in a flight or fight response, zapping your energy.

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.” – Eckhart Tolle

Plan to spend a specific amount of time at the start of each workday on routine administrative tasks such as email and to engage in batch processing wherever possible. Doing so will keep these tasks from occupying your working memory allowing you to more efficiently switch your focus to big picture project items and effectively manage your time.

Finishing even a small task can also give you a boost of satisfaction at having accomplished something early on in the day because it primes your brain to desire future wins. Otherwise, it may be difficult to settle into a state of deep work when you awake because those small tasks will remain at the forefront of your mind, reducing your ability for creative and innovative thinking.

A simple yet effective plan is to devote the first 15-30 minutes of your day to checking your email/voicemail and make any necessary adjustments to the day. To make sure you do not go over the time you allotted for yourself for these tasks, it’s important you only respond to urgent or important calls or emails first and save the rest for later.

A half hour may not seem like enough time if you typically have an overflowing inbox waiting for you but you can always check it at other times of the day. It’s a huge productivity killer to spend your peak energy hours wading through your inbox instead of making real progress right away. Next, make any necessary changes to your overall strategy for tackling the day.

“My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.” – Francine Jay

If you need to schedule a meeting or cancel an appointment, do so during this period of time. Complete any lingering work from the day before that can quickly be done, and gather any materials you need for the main project of the day. By doing this, you will be more likely to enter into a state of flow once you get started on your more difficult task.

After completing these tasks, you can more efficiently transition to your more difficult or time-consuming projects for the day by temporarily silencing the push notifications of your brain. If you need to set an alarm on your computer or phone to get you to disconnect from these more administrative tasks after 15-30 minutes, do so. It’s a small change, but over time will pay dividends especially by reducing the urge to multitask, the ultimate productivity killer.

What are some strategies that have helped you increase your productivity? Let us know by commenting below!

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This boy tripped and fell over a fossil. Now this professor wants to display it.

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What’s the best thing you’ve ever found on a hike? I can almost certainly guarantee that Jude Sparks has got you beat.

Jude Sparks and his amazing find. Is it uncouth to be a little jealous? Photo via Peter Houde.

In November 2016, then-9-year-old Jude Sparks was hiking with his parents and younger brothers in the desert outside Las Cruces, New Mexico. The kids had walkie-talkies and as Jude dashed away to hide from his younger brothers, he tripped and fell, plowing nearly face first into a weird looking rock.

The rock was mottled, shiny, and dark. It looked like fossilized wood, he told The New York Times. On second glance, though, he realized it wasn’t wood. It was teeth.

An entire jawbone, in fact, nearly as large as Sparks himself, was half-buried in the dry, desert soil.

Sparks had stumbled across something amazing — the fossil of a gigantic ancient creature.

At first they didn’t know what they were looking at. Sparks’ younger brother Hunter thought it was a cow skull. His parents suspected elephant. They snapped a quick cell phone picture and, when they got home, got in touch with New Mexico State University biology professor Peter Houde.

Houde immediately recognized the bizarre jaw as part of a stegomastodon — an ancient elephant cousin and a part of a truly amazing group of animals.

The rock Sparks had tripped on was actually the tip of the elephantine creature’s tusk.

A reconstruction of what the animal might have looked like. Image by Margret Flinsch/Wikimedia Commons.

Stegomastodons were not elephants, though they did look like them. They’re not a type of mammoth either. Instead, they’re what’s known as a gomphothere, an offshoot of the elephant family tree.

The skull Sparks found was about 1.2 million years old, though other gomphotheres are known to have lived quite recently. The first people to visit North America might have even sunk their teeth into roast gomphothere steaks.

Jude’s discovery turned up one of New Mexico’s most complete stegomastodons ever.

Professor Houde enlisted about a dozen students to excavate the creature and bring it back to the college for examination, preservation, and hopefully, display.

"I have every hope and expectation that this specimen will ultimately end up on exhibit and this little boy will be able to show his friends and even his own children, ‘look what I found right here in Las Cruces,’" said Houde in a press release. They also found the rest of the creature’s skull nearby.

Professor Houde shows off the tusk and lower jaw of Sparks’ find. Photo by NMSU/Andres Leighton.

Houde said Sparks’ timing was critical to their find. Recent rains had washed out the soil around the fossil, letting the top of the jawbone peek out like a hidden treasure. (If you’re looking for fossils yourself, after a storm is a good time to go exploring.)

Just as Sparks literally tripped over a a scientific discovery, amateurs and accidents contribute to science all the time.

Discoveries don’t just happen at multimillion-dollar laboratories. They’re often the result of just a keen eye and curious mind. Velcro, penicillin, and microwaves were all happy accidents.

Of course, it was good that Sparks left the actual excavation up to professionals. Fossils can be surprisingly fragile. Plus, the skull was technically on private land, so the university had to work out permit rights before digging.

It just goes to show, though, if you keep your eyes open, you never know what you’ll find right under your feet.

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