When he and his husband arranged to have a pool dug at their new Los Angeles house (having moved to Nevada from Washington), they joked with each other that the digging process might turn up something valuable. "Maybe they'll find a dinosaur skeleton and we can sell it to pay for the pool!" Perkins recalls saying on the Friday when the work began. After all, this is Vegas, where fortunes can be made overnight - right?!
But then, on the following Monday morning, the couple woke to find that the construction workers were speaking to police officers about something they'd encountered. Suddenly it was less of a joke. About five feet under the surface of the yard, the pool construction team had found bones. Big, old bones. It was quite a dramatic discovery. Definitely not the best thing to wake up to on a Monday morning.
Thankfully, crime scene investigators were able to establish quite early on that the bones were not human, putting one early worry to rest. However, this was not a common-or-garden case of finding animal bones in someone's back garden. After tests, it was determined that the bones - which come from a large animal, perhaps a horse or a cow - date right back to the Ice Age. They had found not just bones, but fossils.
Joshua Bonde, Director of Research at the Nevada Science Center, explained that Perkins' garden is located not far from Tule Springs Fossil Bed National Monument, which has been the site of the previous discovery of bones from animals such as mammoths, and that the bones under the proposed pool site are 6,000 - 14,000 years old. That's a long time to have sat under the LA earth.
What we found was when they were excavating the backyard pool, they were cutting through ice age layers of sediment and sure enough they had a skeleton of an animal. - Joshua Bonde
Apparently, in the distant past, the area was fed by natural springs and was therefore a watering place for animals, hence such a rich proliferation of bones around and about. People in the area shouldn't be surprised if they hit fossils or ancient bones when they dig below a certain depth.
Fossils, when found in a garden, belong to the owner of the land and the ones in Perkins' back yard, therefore, belong to him and his husband, Joshua Anghel. The couple said that they are currently deciding how best to preserve them before the pool work can continue. Their current plan is that they'll have them removed and turned over to Bonde.
No news, however, on whether they'll get any money for them or whether the proceeds will pay for the pool. But given that they're not actually dinosaur bones, I'm guessing there probably won't be a big paycheque here.