700,000-year-old elephant fossil found in Central Java

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A phenomenal 700,000-year-old ancient dwarf elephant (Stegodon) fossil has been found in Banjarejo Village, Grobogan Regency, Central Java, a conservation agency announced on Wednesday.

700,000-year-old elephant fossil found in Central Java
Excavations at Mata Menge exposing the fossil bones of pygmy Stegodon, an extinct relative of Asian elephants 
[Credit: Gerrit van der Bergh, Adam Brumm]

Sangiran Ancient Human Site Conservation Agency (BPSMP) considered the discovery to be an extraordinary find, even more so because the dwarf elephant fossil was found fully intact, including its 4-meters-long ivory tusks.

“This is a phenomenal discovery. We assume that this fossil is a Stegodon elephant and we will conduct further study. The important thing is that the fossil is intact and is unearthed in one excavation site,” BPSMP Sangiran chief Sukronedi said.

The fossil of the ancient and rare species was first found by a 70-year-old farmer, Rusdi, while he was digging for a well in his field on June 8.

At the depth of 1.5 meters, Rusdi reportedly saw an elephant skull, which was two to three times bigger than the modern elephant’s. He immediately reported the discovery to the village hall.

Banjarejo village chief Ahmad Taufik said that following the report locals tried to excavate the soil for three days, but could only do so at night as they were not strong enough to dig while fasting.

Historically in Indonesia, there were three generations of ancient elephant, namely the Mastodon, which lived 1.5 million years ago; the Stegodon, which lived 1.2 million years ago; and the Elephas, which lived 800,000 years ago, Sukronedi said.


Author: Ganug Nugroho Adi | Source: The Jakarta Post [June 15, 2017]

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