Mammoth tibia found at West Runton could be two million years old
- Credit: Archant
A giant bone has been uncovered on the beach where one of the most complete skeletons of a mammoth ever discovered in Europe was found.
Amateur archaeologist Dan Chamberlain, from Long Stratton, made the discovery while fossil-hunting on the beach at West Runton with Russell Yeomans, from Gunton, earlier today (Friday).
It has been provisionally identified as the tibia (lower leg) bone of a mammoth, which last walked the earth more than 700,000 years ago.
And, according to one expert, could be two million years old.
Mr Chamberlain said: 'I've found fossils all along the coast but this is the best find I've had to date.
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'I just spotted a piece of fossil antler and I looked for more of the same and then came across another couple of pieces of bone a few feet away, barely visible in the sand, and then a couple of feet away from that I spotted the end of a bone.
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'People have probably been walking over this for the past few days, I was just lucky enough to recognise it because it was the same colour as the rest of the crag around it.'
But he added: 'I didn't think it was going to be as big as what it was. It was a nice find. I was just in the right place at the right time.'
The West Runton Freshwater Bed is a five-foot thick layer of organic-rich mud deposited by a medium sized river long before the beginning of the Ice Ages. The deposit, just east of West Runton, is believed to be full of all sorts of fossils, the most famous of which - the West Runton mammoth - was uncovered following storms in 1990.
Other interesting finds made included pieces of what is believed to be a steppe bison, rhino and hippo.
A tooth belonging to a mammoth was also found at West Runton last year.
Paleontologist Nigel Larkin, who was involved in the preservation of the West Runton mammoth, described the bone as 'a fantastic find'.
He said: 'They don't get much better than this. It looks like it might be a complete tibia (lower leg bone) of a mammoth, in Crag deposits. So that makes it about one-and-a-half or two million-years-old.
'The species is likely to be mammuthus meridionalis, the Southern mammoth.'
The find is being sent to Norfolk Museums Service to be authenticated.
Jamie Jordan, the curator of Fossils Galore Museum in March, said: 'This mammoth tibia is very rare to come across complete. The last one I know to have been found in that formation was more than 10 years ago.'