Weeks after first being spotted on a beach along the coast of Wales, researchers have recovered an impressive set of antlers that belonged to a red deer believed to have lived at least 4,000 years ago.
Researchers from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David are examining the remains, which include part of the skull, discovered on a beach in Borth, seven miles north of Aberystwyth, in the Welsh county of Ceredigion.
The remains were first sighted in early April but could not be recovered until recently because of the tides, according to the BBC.
The find comes from a channel cut through an area which in the 1960s turned up bones of an auroch, large wild cattle that inhabited Europe, Asia and North Africa, and the ancestor of domestic cattle.
“The individual was certainly in the prime of his life showing full development of the large antlers,” according to Dr. Ros Coard of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
When the skull and antlers were first seen, they were reported to the Royal Commission in Aberystwyth which alerted officials at the school’s archaeology, history and anthropology department.
The individuals who originally located the antlers and partial skull photographed the area where it was spotted. The images were used by the team, who manually searched the water at low tide until the skull was found in approximately three feet of water, according to the BBC.
The forest and peat deposits on either side of the channel date to between about 6,000 and 4,000 years ago – the time of the last hunter-gatherers and the earliest farmers in Britain.
“This is a wonderful discovery that really brings the forest and its environs to light,” said Dr. Martin Bates of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. “Although the exact age of the skull has yet to be confirmed, it’s probable that the channel within which the find was made is contemporary with the forest and so an age in excess of 4,000 years old is likely.”
Coard, a faunal specialist at University of Wales Trinity Saint David, added: “Although the antlers and partial skull still have to undergo full analysis, the antlers can be said to come from a very large, mature male red deer.”
(Top: Antlers and part of skull of red deer believed to be at least 4,000 years old, recovered along coast of Wales. Photo credit: University of Wales Trinity Saint David.)