After popping out for some fresh air, farmer Jose Antonio Nievas stumbled across what experts believe are the remains of a prehistoric giant.
The 3ft (one metre) long shell discovered on a riverbank near a local farm may be from a glyptodont – a prehistoric kind of giant armadillo.
Jose Antonio Nievas discovered a three foot (one metre) long shell (pictured) on a riverbank in Argentina which may be from a glyptodont – a prehistoric kind of giant armadillo
While there is a chance the shell is a hoax because it hasn’t been studied directly by experts, Adrian Lister of the Natural History Museum, London, told MailOnline: ‘I think it is quite likely this is genuine.’
‘The shell looks like a genuine glyptodont shell, and the hole is “wear and tear”, not where the head or tail went,’ he explained.
At first, Mr Nievas thought the black scaly shell was a dinosaur egg when he saw it in the mud, his wife Reina Coronel said.
But a palaeontologist who studied the pictures later said it belonged to an ancient ancestor of the armadillo.
Alejandro Kramarz of the Bernadino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum exclaimed: ‘There is no doubt that it looks like a glyptodont.’
Because the shell looks so perfect for its age of some 10,000 years, some believe it may be a hoax
After studying the pictures, a palaeontologist said there’s ‘no doubt’ the shell belonged to an ancient ancestor of the peculiar creature (illustrated). Glyptodonts are the ancestors of modern armadillos. They lived in South America for tens of millions of years and had big round armoured shells, weighing up to a ton
Dr Ross MacPhee, a curator in the American Museum of Natural History’s Department of Mammalogy told MailOnline: ‘It looks real enough. Complete shells are rarely found, but they do occur.
Mr Nievas found the shell beside a stream at the couple’s farm in Carlos Spegazzini, around 25 miles (40km) south of the capital Buenos Aires.
‘My husband went out to the car and when he came back he said, “Hey, I just found an egg that looks like it came from a dinosaur,”‘ Ms Coronel said.
‘We all laughed because we thought it was a joke.’
Mr Nievas told television channel Todo Noticias he found the shell partly covered in mud and started to dig around it. Here a policeman looks at the fossil, which is partially excavated
‘The animal became extinct thousands of years ago and it is very common to find their fossils in this region,’ palaeontologist Dr Kramarz told AFP. An image of the shell in situ is shown
Mr Nievas told television channel Todo Noticias he found the shell partly covered in mud and started to dig around it.
Various experts who saw television pictures of the object also said it is likely to be a glyptodont shell.
Professor Lister explained it’s common to find fossils buried in the bank of streams and rivers, because flowing water gradually erodes the bank to expose ancient shells and bones.
‘The finder would first have spotted a small area of the shell exposed in the stream bank and then by digging, exposed the whole thing,’ he said.
‘This scenario is supported by the green staining on the shell, just in the area where it might first have been exposed to the stream, even with a kind of “tide mark” on it.
‘It would be an ingenious hoaxer who would construct such a thing.’