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Fishermen Reel In Giant 10,000-Year-Old Irish Elk Skull




  • Two fishermen were surprised to reel in a massive prehistoric skull of an Irish Elk
  • The skull measured over six feet across
  • The Irish Elk roamed the earth 10,000 years ago.

Fishing can be a rewarding hobby, especially when you’ll get surprised by your interesting catch. And that’s exactly what happened to a fisherman and his assistant when they were out fishing in Northern Ireland on Sept. 5.

Raymond McElroy and Charlie Coyle were out to catch fish in Lough Neagh, a large freshwater lake, but they ended up with something more – literally a big surprise. They thought they had snagged a large piece of deadwood but it turned out to be an unusual prehistoric catch. 

The two fishermen reeled in a giant skull with antlers.

The skull with antlers measured more than six feet across and is said to belong to the Irish Elk (Megaloceros giganteus), an animal that has been extinct in Ireland for over 10,500 years. You can imagine just how surprised the fishermen were, having caught not only a massive skull but also one that belonged to an ancient creature. Coyle couldn’t believe what he saw that he thought of throwing it back into the water. He told reporters:

“I thought it was the devil himself. I was going to throw it back in. I didn’t know what to do with it.”

But even then, Coyle eventually recognized their catch being a large animal that roamed the earth thousands of years ago. He recalled that a jawbone (believed to come from the same animal they discovered) was caught in 2014 and made the local news.

In the meantime, Coyle is keeping this ancient find in his garage.

The Irish Elk is also known as the Great Elk. While it is named so, it is not an elk but rather a huge species of deer. This animal stood about 6.5 feet tall, (with some having antlers that measured 12 feet wide) and is considered to be the largest deer species to roam the earth. It’s not Irish either. The animal once can be found in all of Europe, northern Asia, North Africa, with its related species roaming in China.

The reason it got its name is that intact fossils were often found in Ireland, specifically in lake beds and island bogs, which can preserve bones very well.

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