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While out for a solitary walk on Christmas day, Argentinian farmer Jose Antonio Nievas spotted something peculiar.
As he passed a muddy riverbank that ran through a portion of his property, he noticed an unusual sight. What appeared to be an enormous, rounded stone was sticking out from the bank of the stream.
"I saw it out of the corner of my eye," Nievas said. "I was really thinking about my family and the holiday, so I wasn't paying good attention to what I was doing."
But when he did, he discovered it was not actually a stone at all.
"The texture was really strange," he said. "I've never felt anything like that in my life. I couldn't decide if it was alive or not."
"When my husband returned from his walk he said, 'Hey, I just found an egg that looks like it came from a dinosaur,'" Reina Nievas said. "We all laughed because we thought it was a joke."
Jose and his wife didn't waste any time and went to work, attempting to unearth and clean the object with tools from Nievas' shed.
They worked slowly and delicately, trying not to damage what they began referring to as "the thing from outer space."
"As we continued to excavate, we realized the true size of the thing," Nievas said. "At some point, we figured that we were going to need help."
Finally, after working for several hours, they decided to call the police...
When the local authorities arrived, they were initially skeptical of Nievas' claims. As seasoned officers with the Policía Federal Argentina, Lieutenant Marco Vasquez and Officer Juan Federico Lamia had heard some tall tales in their time.
"There were just a few of us in the office over the holiday," said Lieutenant Vasquez. "We were bored. So when the call came in, we both jumped at the chance to get out for a little while."
"Surely, this was joke we thought," said Officer Lamia.
But when the small entourage arrived at the riverbank, the officers were quickly convinced that the strange object was something "very much out of the ordinary."
After hesitantly approaching the bizarre, rounded pod, Lieutenant Vasquez tried to remove some of the mud.
"I actually was halfway believing that this was something from another world," Lamia said.
While Jose and his wife had only invited the police, word spread fast in the small town of San Isidro. Neighbors quickly began showing up at the Nievas' home and then making their way out to the riverbank...
Maria Louisa Ruiz, age 76, has lived next to the Nievas' farm for most of her adult life and was the third person to see the strange "space egg."
"I brought over a warm pot of tea and a small bag of buns for the children," she said. "I wasn't going to go see the thing everyone was so excited about, but my curiosity eventually got the best of me."
"When I was a little girl living in Buenos Aires, my sister Juana and I saw three red lights in the sky," she said. "They were spacecraft from another world. As they hovered above the cathedral, I wondered if they had come to tell us about Jesus and the angels."
The grandmother of six and renowned gardener was certain the object in Nievas' stream was an alien artifact...
As baffled police and locals milled about, an unlikely investigator arrived on the scene. Drawn by the activity of the growing crowd and the smells of Christmas deserts in tow, a neighbor's dog began tentatively making his way toward the mystery embedded in the muddy bank.
"Raphael wanted one of Maria's buns," said Jose Nievas. "But when he saw the egg, he froze and the hairs on his back stood up. He didn't growl, but he pulled his lips back in a snarl."
This reaction was the first sign that "the artifact from outer space" was something important.
When Raphael wouldn't stop barking, Reina Nievas took the dog back to their home so as to not cause any further disturbance.
With the dog's reaction in mind, the police decided it was time to call in the experts...
When two archaeologists from the Universidad de Buenos Aires arrived a couple of hours later, they knew immediately that Nievas had found something significant.
Dr. Daniel Resa and his assistant Jaime Chevaz Jr. quickly concluded that the huge object was something from another epoch, and definitely quite ancient.
They knew it required further scientific investigation and that this could only happen in a lab...
"This was really beyond our level of expertise," said Resa. "We covered the object with a tarp to protect it from the elements. Being the Christmas holiday, there wasn't really anyone to call. We would have to wait a few days for the proper assistance."
Three days later, a coterie of scientists from the university arrived with a truck and the heavy equipment necessary to properly excavate the find.
By that point, the archaeologists had a pretty good idea of what the "space egg" was...
Exactly what species of mammal Nievas found has not yet been officially determined. But paleontologists at the Universidad de Buenos Aires have informally concluded the object is the fossilized shell of a glyptodont.
Glyptodonts are an extinct subfamily of large, heavily armored relatives of armadillos. They developed in South America around 20 million years ago and spread to southern North America after the continents became connected several million years ago by a land bridge.
But this was just the beginning of the glyptodont's journey...