For the first time, researchers have found the underwater remains of a land animal that is believed to be an ancient ancestor of elephants. The remains were discovered by the Obruk Cave Research Group at the bottom of the Yamula Dam which is located in the central province of Kayseri, Turkey.
In a statement released by the Kayseri Metropolitan Municipality on their Facebook page, they stated that they believe the 7.5 million-year-old fossil belongs to an ancient ancestor of today’s elephants. “For the first time in the world, a land animal's fossil was found underwater at the Yamula Dam,” the statement read in part, adding that it’s quite rare to find such a large and mostly undamaged fossil deep beneath the water.
Ali Ethem Keskin, who is a Turkish cave diver, stated, “They (experts) can identify which part belongs to which animal species from the photographs I take... However, these samples may be fragmented and deformed as they remain underwater,” adding, “I need to underline that fossils of sea creatures were previously discovered. However, for the first time in the world, fossils of a land creature thought to belong to the ancestors of elephants have been pictured underwater.”
While diving underwater, Keskin took several pictures of the remains which include a foot bone from the ancient land animal. Several of the pictures can be seen here as well as here.
Additional excavations were conducted close to the Yamula Dam two years ago and experts have found numerous fossils belonging to elephants, such as jawbones and skulls. As a matter of fact, in October of 2019, there were reports of anthropologists unearthing 8 million-year-old fossils located not too far from the Yamula Dam (in the Barsama area which is 43.5 miles away). The remains consisted of several animals including a giraffe, rhinoceros, tricorn horse, and a bovidae species.
Other fossils had been previously unearthed closer to the Yamula Dam and they were all from the same time period. The only difference was that the ones found in the Barsama area belonged to smaller animals than the remains that were found close to the Yamula Dam.