Two brothers and amateur fossil hunters found a massive prehistoric bone believed to have belonged to a straight-tusked elephant or mammoth. Luke and Joe Ferguson, who have been collecting fossils since they were kids, discovered the 1-meter-long bone (3.3 feet in length) sticking out of rocks close to Brighstone Beach on the Isle of Wight. It was sticking out of the cliff after some rocks recently fell off probably due to bad weather.
Joe explained how they discovered the large fossil on January 27th, “Half of it was sticking out like a cartoon prop - it was incredible - it just slid out and we didn't even have to dig.” “It's over 3ft long and, at a guess, about 25 to 30kg (55 to 66 pounds). We had to carry it on our shoulders.”
He added that they have cabinets full of fossils they have found over the years, but this recently discovered bone was by far their greatest discovery. “You don't ever imagine finding something like this in such good condition, it's pristine.” “It feels brilliant to find it, I'm still buzzing, just can't believe it, every time I look at it, it's just huge in our room – compared to the other fossils we have they are nothing.” “It is honestly the find of a lifetime. It doesn’t get better than that.”
Luke weighed in by stating, “At first I couldn't believe it - I have never seen anything like it,” adding, “I'd like to keep it but wouldn't mind putting it on show.”
They took pictures of the fossil and sent them to the Dinosaur Isle Museum on the Isle of Wight for their expert opinion on what type of animal the bone belonged to. They contacted the brothers back and said that they believe it was from a straight-tusked elephant or mammoth that possibly lived more than a hundred thousand years ago.
Dr. Martin Munt, who is the curator and general manager at the museum, noted that the fossil looked like a humerus bone and could be anywhere between 10,000 and 125,000 years old. “Bones of both types of elephant have been found before in the gravels that cap the cliff along the Island's south-west coast,” he said. “It is a particularly good example, and looks to be almost complete. The preservation and location of the find makes it unique.” “I was very excited when I saw the pictures that Luke shared with me, owing to the rarity of the find.”
While this is incredibly interesting, the brothers will have to wait until the lockdown is over in order to have the bone fully examined and officially identified. In the meantime, they are preserving it by keeping it in a cold damp location and drying it out very slowly which could take several months.
Pictures of the fossil can be seen here.