What are backyards for? You sit on a cozy Sunday morning with a cup of tea in your hand and enjoy the weekend. You cherish the greenery ar...

happyworld - Iowa Farmer Makes A Life-changing Discovery In His Backyard While Picking Up Berries happyworld - Iowa Farmer Makes A Life-changing Discovery In His Backyard While Picking Up Berries

happyworld - Iowa Farmer Makes A Life-changing Discovery In His Backyard While Picking Up Berries

happyworld - Iowa Farmer Makes A Life-changing Discovery In His Backyard While Picking Up Berries

What are backyards for? You sit on a cozy Sunday morning with a cup of tea in your hand and enjoy the weekend. You cherish the greenery around you in this hectic life of yours. Birds chirp and you enjoy the different kind of music they sing while you take a walk on the green grass enjoying the breeze.
But what if you suddenly find a crack on the ground that you are walking on, and see something hidden inside the fracture, that is nothing less than the rarest of things ever found?
When a farmer was picking up berries in his backyard, he found an out-of-the-ordinary treasure that changed the course of the history of the ice-age era.

The Lucky Man

John is a farmer and has been in the profession since is young days. He has a small and loving family with his wife and two teenage sons. John and his family live in a small home built with love in Oskaloosa, Iowa. 

A Hobby

Farming has not just been a profession or source of income for John. It has been more of a hobby since childhood. He loved going to the farms with his father and enjoyed picking up fresh fruits and vegetables after he had helped his father in sowing them. 

Loving Home

John and his family of four lived in a small house that they had decorated and designed by themselves. The house had a little living room which was soon going to have a treasured discovery added to its decor. But the discovery was going to be too big to be kept in a living room as well.


John was a lucky man to have a loving and caring family. Even though his boys were in their teenage years, they were connected to the family and each member of the family spent time with each other. It was during spending time with each other only that he and his sons found the treasure of a lifetime. 

Something Unusual

One day in 2010 when John and his two sons were picking berries in their backyard, the younger son came across something weird. He pointed out at something he thought was a ball in the creek but didn’t know it would turn out to be the biggest discovery of his life. 

The State Of Iowa

Iowa has given the world some of the greatest personalities like everyone’s favorite Ashton Kutcher, Elijah Wood, John Wayne, and so many others. But this time it was going to give the world something that the people of today would never have even thought of. 

Numerous Discoveries

Iowa is also known for the great discoveries that have been made in the state. From a Sabretooth tiger to a 7000-year-old village, a lot has been discovered in the state. What was it going to be this time that was going to get discovered in the farmer’s backyard? 


When John and his family started digging to find out what was inside exactly, they got to know of how rare the discovery was, and it was surprising to see that there was much more to it than what just seemed like a ball in the creek. 

Abnormal Size

After digging layers upon layers, the family realized that they were going on the path of finding something huge, not just in value but also in size. It was larger than anything they could imagine of at the moment they were digging and it seemed abnormal to be precise. 

Precious Possession

The discovery was no doubt going to be the most prized possession for John and his family. It was six feet below the surface and it was something never seen before. But the question was what was it and when would John tell about it to the world? 

More Than One

After digging for long, the family realized that there was not just one thing under the surface. The moment they found the first hidden thing, they saw another of the kind under the surface as well. There were several discoveries that were visible to the family and so they decided to call in some expert. 

Never Imagined

John called in experts to help him and his sons in uncovering what was hidden inside because it did not seem like any average find and it was in large quantity as well. He was worried about not being able to uncover them all properly and he wanted them to be handled carefully.

Not Fitting In

By the time the expert team arrived at John’s place, the father and sons had already discovered twenty precious things which were so big that when he decided to keep them in his living room, it came as a surprise for him to see how they did not even fit in the largest room of his house. 

Never Seen

The small-town family had unearthed one of the large deposits at the site that could possibly be, and it was something even the experts had never seen. What could possibly be so rare and big that was hidden even from the eyes of these experts? 


The possession which they had just discovered was so rare and distinct for the eyes that John decided upon not telling about the discovery to anyone and he hid the treasure in his own living room without informing anyone. 


Finally, after two years, when a thought struck John that there might still be more to the discovery that had been made, he decided he would officially announce the treasure that he had unearthed and called in more volunteers to come and examine the condition. 

First Of Its Kind

After the discovery was unveiled by the family, everybody was stunned to see it. “The size of this discovery is quite uncommon,” said Sarah Horgan, education coordinator at the Museum of Natural History. It was going to be the first of its kind of discovery. 

Helping Hand

Hundreds of volunteers helped John and his family dig up a truly historic piece, which was going to be priceless. It was a fascinating find that was uncovered in the backyard of a farmer who must have not even dreamed of any such thing. 

What Was It?

“I got down on my hands and knees on the bank, and I could see a marrow line around the edge of this, and I said, ‘Boys, that’s a bone. That’s a really big bone,” John told ABC5. But little did he know that the discovery was not going to end there. That was just the starting. 

The Treasure

When John dug up and reached the bone, it was not just a normal bone but the leg of a creature too large to even imagine. The knee joint of the leg was in itself as huge as a soccer ball. What creature could it possibly be that no one had ever heard of or seen? 

Other Bones

Apart from the leg, the family had also discovered floating and thoracic ribs, feet bones, phalanges and pieces of vertebrae. And they were all combined and came out as the skeleton of an ice-age mammoth, of a very unique species. 

The Mammoth

The mammoth whose skeleton had been discovered in various pieces was believed to be of the species that was at least 12000 years old and was extinct by the end of the last ice age. It was an ancient woolly mammoth’s femur, one of the hulking beasts that use to roam in the region of Iowa during ice-age. 

Largest Ever

The family had discovered the largest deposits of ice-age mammoth bones that have ever been produced. John was more than excited about the discovery because he always had an interest in archeology and what could be more precious than what he had just found? 

The Co-incidence

Finding skeletons or bones of ancient animals was not something abnormal or unusual in Iowa. What was unique was that so many bones of the same animal were found in the same place, all in pieces but nearby each other?

Exciting Study

What excited Sarah Horgen the most is according to her,”It’s pretty exciting-partially because the mammoth is being discovered where it died. And we know that because we’re finding very large bones right alongside very small bones and the bones discovered could be 100,000 years old or more.”

The Details

Holmes Semken, a retired paleontologist and professor emeritus at the University of Iowa’s Department of Geoscience told, “The femur is about 4 feet long. The ribs of the diaphragm that move when you breathe are 2 and half feet each. The ribs that connect to the breast bone are 4 feet. You could use one for a walking cane.” 

Uncovering Continues

So far, a lot of bones of the mammoth have been unearthed, but the team believes that there could still be more that could be discovered. Semken added, “We don’t know how widely scattered the bones are,” but the team is willing to dig for “as long as it takes.” 

What Next?

The question now is, that what will happen to the bones of the mammoth after they have all been dug up? “The bones really belong to the land owner,” said Semken in an interview. “Our agreement with him is we get the science.” 

John’s Plan

When asked about what he would do of the treasure that he has just found, John said,  “Build another room off the side of the home and put it together?”  What better way would there be for him to actually give way to his archeological interests? 

The Collection

Amid his coffee table, showpieces and television in the living area, John now has a collection of enormous woolly mammoth fossils. These woolly mammoths were hairy relatives of African elephants, roughly 13 feet tall and very broad and muscular. 

Not Just One

By 2015, the bones of not just one but three mammoths were found deep inside John’s backyard, where these mammoths once roamed. What was interesting was that all these bones had marks of biting on them, all in similar patterns, which meant they all died because of the same reason.

Updated Picture

With three new discoveries of fossils, Sarah Horgen is positive and said, “What’s important to the university is looking at the environmental context that we can recover as part of this excavation, looking at what Iowa was like at the end of the last ice age.”

The Owner’s Support

The discoveries are very important to the field of science and John has been very supportive in this context. “The geological location for this thing is just ideal,” Semken said. “He’s very excited about the kind of science we’ll get out of it and he fully realizes the value of what we have.” 


To find something that has been a part of our history and has existed this long is a very fascinating thought in itself. Things like these give us clues and details about what the world was like before we came. It is the kind of history that we won’t be able to study in books.

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