If you love very old things, sweet excitable people, and a damn good coincidence, this might be your favorite human interest story in a long time.
From his childhood in Mexico throughout his life in Texas, Ruben Marroquin has surveyed his surroundings for coins, bones and any small treasures that can link him with the past and elicit daydreams of the people and animals who walked the land long ago. Until this week, he never found anything of value, though that was never really the point.
Oddly, it was when he wasn't looking that he found something that landed a WFAA reporter at his doorstep, curious to learn more. It was a bison, possibly prehistoric, buried in his yard.
He's in the process of digging a new swimming pool in the yard that's been his for 40 years. He was digging for the gas line to connect to the heater when he struck bone. Teeth and horns revealed themselves after more digging, and Marroquin realized this wasn't the old grave site of someone's family dog. This was bigger.
His son, whose high school mascot was a bison, called WFAA to tell the news station that was the animal they found. On what must have been a slow news day, a reporter showed up quickly and did a story on the possibly prehistoric bison bones.
When guests stop by, Marroquin often broaches a certain conversation topic -- his collection of other curiosities including one particular bone that he hasn't been able to identify in the 25 years since he found it. WFAA did some digging of their own, calling Dr. Darryl de Ruiter at Texas A&M, who solved the mystery: the bone is a wooly mammoth tooth.
"What is that?" Marroquin asked the reporter. "Is it bigger than a rabbit?"
Well, it's a humongous creature with tusks longer than a Ford F-150 that occupied Kessler Park 9,000 years ago.
"It was kind of weird and fantastic. It's been kind of interesting," Marroquin tells Unfair Park.
He explained that his neighborhood used to be swampy with plenty of vegetation. That's why many animals settled and eventually died there. "If there was a tooth there's got to be more bones somewhere," Marroquin says.