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Fishermen Discover A Massive 10,000-Year-Old “Irish elk” Skull



In September 2018, fisherman Raymond McElroy and his assistant, Charlie Coyle, had high hopes as they felt something snag their line about half a mile from the shore of Lake Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland. But as they reeled in their supposed ‘catch’, it turned out to be an enormous pair of elk antlers with the top half of the skull entirely undamaged. This random discovery is notable because it is apparently of a historic nature; the antlers (belonging to the extinct species popularly known as the ‘Irish elk’) have been confirmed to date back over 10,500 years, according to LifeScience.

Lough Neagh seems to have a fair share of body parts that belong to extinct animals because, incidentally, this is not the first time  that the remains of the Irish elk have been found in the lake. In 2014, another fisherman named Martin Kelly was able to retrieve a lower jawbone of the Irish elk around the same area, which was estimated to be even older; about 14,000 years. According to Mr. McElroy, there is a possibility that these two discoveries are part of the same skull, but that theory is yet to be investigated further. The 3000 year gap doesn’t exactly help the case, too.

The Irish elk (Megaloceros giganteus) were a species of deer (not ‘elks’, actually) that have been extinct for over 10,000 years. Even though the ‘Irish’ in the name might suggest it, this species was actually not native or exclusive to Ireland & could be found all across Asia, Europe and Northern Africa. But yes, they were found more frequently in Irish bogs & lakes.

The total length of the antlers and skull discovered by the fishermen is about 6 feet or 1.8 meters. If the herbivores were of this stature 10,000 years ago, let's not even think about the predators, shall we? Now, judging from the length & size of their skull & antlers alone, the Irish elks must have been massive in size. Mike Simms, a paleontologist at the Ulster Museum in Belfast, theorizes that the deer might have once been able to reside in the Irish grass plains, when the weather & environment suited them. But as forests began to grow, navigating them with antlers as big as theirs’ wasn’t an easy task; imagine trying to walk down a narrow alleyway with a 6-foot-long bamboo pole horizontally pasted on your head. So, ultimately, the problem that the deer had to face and the factor that drove them to extinction was quite an unglamorous one; literally, a big head.



Fishermen Discover A Massive 10,000-Year-Old “Irish elk” Skull Fishermen Discover A Massive 10,000-Year-Old “Irish elk” Skull Reviewed by Tyler on April 08, 2019 Rating: 5

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