A fisherman in Ardboe, a small village in Ireland, discovered the skull and antler remains of an extinct Great Irish Elk, a creature that hasn’t roamed the Irish landscape in thousands of years. Though this isn’t the oldest Great Irish Elk discovery — that distinction goes to one dated around 14,000-years-old — it is far more notable: the massive skull and antlers are completely intact.
The discovery was reported by Belfast Live, which says fisherman Raymond McElroy was behind the find. The remains were pulled from the Lough Neagh, a big freshwater lake in Northern Ireland, using a fishing net. The same lake netted the 14,000-year-old jawbone retrieved in 2014.
The fossil is massive, spanning several feet from one antler to the other. Though the skull is intact, the jawbone is missing; because the remains were found in the same location, some speculate the 2014 jawbone may have originated from the same creature.
These massive ancient creatures are estimated to have gone extinct between 10,500 and 11,000 years ago, the reason being changes to the environment. Ireland’s landscape began to transform into a forested one, and the elk’s wide antlers weren’t suited for dealing with the trees and brush.
The Irish Post reports that the fossil is currently located in a garage, but won’t remain there. It’s likely a museum will acquire the remains, but it’s unclear where the final resting place will be.
Image via Ardboe Gallery on Facebook