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100,000-Year Old Fossil Of Straight-Tusked Elephant Found Protruding From Sand

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A straight-tusked elephant fossil that is about 100,000 years old was found protruding from the sands of Isle of Wight in England.

A local resident named Paul Hollingshead was the one who unearthed the shoulder bone fossil, which experts said belonged to an extinct elephant called Palaeoloxodon antiquus and most probably dates back to the Ipswichian period.

Surprise Discovery

Hollingshead did not intend to look for a fossils during the time of discovery. He was just walking on the sands when he saw the protruding bone. He stopped to look at it and later realized that it was a bit bigger.

The next thing he did was dig through more sand and stones to clear the area. He spent about two and half hours doing this before he was finally able to retrieve the entire fossil.

Fossil Finally Displayed

The bone has been placed on display at the Dinosaur Isle museum in Sandown. Although the fossil was first discovered by Hollingshead in March 2015, it took a couple of months before the staff at Dinosaur Isle was able to restore the fossil according to the standards for display.

Now, the conservation work is finished and the bone can now be viewed at the museum.

Alex Peaker from the Dinosaur Isle said the Isle of Wight is not usually associated with elephant fossils, but the discovery was able to suggest that the animals may have roamed around the island many years ago.

Hollingshead did not expect the results of the investigations either.

"I was hoping it was a dinosaur bone, so was quite shocked to find out it was from an elephant," he said.

Hollingshead donated the fossil to the museum and for this, Peaker and his colleagues are thankful.

Facts About Straight-Tusked Elephants

Experts say that straight-tusked elephants existed in the world appxoximately 100,000 years ago. The species lived in Europe during the Middle and Late Pleistocene, but were closely related to present-day Asian elephants.

The elephants weighed around 12 to 15 tons and stood about 13 to 14 feet tall. The legs were a bit longer than living elephants and its tusks were long and slightly curved upward.

Bronze Age Art Controversy

Straight-tusked elephants went extinct some 24,000 to 34,000 years ago. In a study, however, Chinese researchers said the species lived in northern China for much longer.

Their basis? The bronze statues of the species that extended up to the time of China's Shang and Zhou Dynasties, which transpired from 1,000 BC to 2,000 BC.

Lead author Ji Li from Shaanxi Normal University said they found historic elephant structures that had two "fingers" on top of its nose.

"I do not think this phenomenon is just a pure coincidence," Li says.

Not all experts agree with the statements of the Chinese researchers. While art may be suggestive, it does not ultimately determine historical facts; it all comes down to the bones, the fossil bones that is.

Although enigmatic art may provide ideas, hard evidence must be available to confirm the dates when species existed on Earth.

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