200,000 year old elephant skeleton found in Indonesia

June 10th, 2009 - 3:39 pm ICT by IANS  

London, June 10 (IANS) An almost 200,000-year-old elephant skeleton from a terrace adjacent to the Solo River in East Java, Indonesia has been excavated recently. The discovery was made by a team from the Geological Survey Institute (GSI) and the University of Wollongong (UOW).
It took almost four weeks to remove the sand, excavate the bones and wrap them in plaster so that it could be transported to the Geology Museum in Bandung, West Java. Once the bones have been assembled, the skeleton will be displayed in the museum.

The discovery has generated extensive interest among the general public and the Indonesian media.

“This is a really significant find,” said Dr. Gert van den Bergh, a UOW palaeontologist. He helped with the discovery and will examine the remains.

“It is one of the most complete elephant skeletons ever recorded in Indonesia, is of an extinct species and is of enormous size- - much bigger than modern-day Asian elephants with the femur alone being 1.2 metres long,” he said.

“Normally, such dead animals would have been ripped apart and eaten by carnivores. Last year, for instance, the same team found the skull of an enormous tiger in the same general area. But it appears that the elephant became bogged in the river shallows, perished and was quickly covered by sands — about 200,000 years ago. Parts of the elephant were still articulated when found,” Dr. van den Bergh added.

The excavation was part of a collaborative research project between Indonesian and Australian researchers led by Professor Mike Morwood (UOW) and Professor Fachroel Aziz (GSI).

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