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“We won’t know until experts examine it and find out if there are butcher marks,” he said.

While Calame and Turner were carefully pulling out bones, Ryan Murray made another discovery. As he sifted dirt found between the bones, he found small pieces of flint. The flint could have been left there by Indians cutting into the buffalo, said Calame.

The flint could be a key to the bison’s age, said retired UT paleontology professor Ernie Lundelius, because prehistoric Indians hunted the bison about 12,000 years ago. Lundelius said it wasn’t common to find a skeleton as complete as the one Ryan Murray found. Lundelius also examined photos that Murray took of the bison skull.

“It has adult teeth, from what I can see of it,” Lundelius said. He also said that the left horn on the animal “looked odd.”

“It does seem like it’s kind of big for a modern bison,” the professor said.

Murray said he has spent about 70 hours digging and invested about $100 in equipment for his quest. Calame and Turner provided their services for free, he said. No one in his family, including his wife, has given him a hard time about his endeavor, he said. “They’ve all been very supportive,” he said.

He won’t know how old the bison really is until next year, when UT- San Antonio runs carbon-dating tests on it for free, said Murray. Until then, he’s working on clearing the dirt off the bison’s skull, which he’s keeping in a building at the ranch.

“This has been rewarding and fascinating and enjoyable,” he said. “It’s better than sitting at home and staring at an iPad.”

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Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com