Fossil hunters find huge 66lb bone that belonged to huge straight-tusked elephant


Two fossil-hunting brothers have found a huge prehistoric bone that once belonged to either a straight-tusked elephant or the extinct mammoth.

Joe Furguson, 28, and Luke Furguson, 30, found the 3 feet, 3 inch (1 metre) humerus bone near Brighstone Bay on the southwest coast of the Isle of Wight.

The astonishing find – which was sticking out of the shingle following a recent cliff fall, likely from bad weather – could be anywhere between 10,000 and 125,000 years old, according to a local palaeontologist.

‘Me and my brother have been fossil hunting for years since we were children, we came across it which was unbelievable really,’ Joe said.

‘It’s our best find for sure, we have had some good finds and our house is like a museum with cabinets full, but this is the biggest and is unbeatable.

‘You don’t ever imagine finding something like this in such good condition, it’s pristine.

‘It feels brilliant to find it, I’m still buzzing, just can’t believe it, every time I look at it, it’s just huge in our room – compared to the other fossils we have they are nothing.

‘It is honestly the find of a lifetime. It doesn’t get better than that.’

The brothers sent photos of their find to Dr Martin Munt, curator and general manager at Dinosaur Isle Museum in Sandown on the Isle of Wight.

Dr Munt said the bone appeared to be a humerus from either a straight-tusked elephant or mammoth and estimated that it’s somewhere between 10,000 and 125,000 years old. Mammoths went extinct around 4,000 years ago.

‘Bones of both types of elephant have been found before in the gravels that cap the cliff along the Island’s south-west coast,’ Dr Munt told the BBC.

‘It is a particularly good example, and looks to be almost complete. The preservation and location of the find makes it unique.

‘I was very excited when I saw the pictures that Luke shared with me, owing to the rarity of the find.’

Pictured is the brothers’ dog Mylo, a Jack Russel crossed with a springer spaniel, with the huge fossil. Joe said: ‘We are now trying to preserve it by keeping it in a cold damp area and slowly drying it out which may take months’
The Furguson brothers have been fossil hunting since they were children and have built up an impressive collection – but this latest find is their best yet.
They regularly go out fossil hunting together on the Isle of Wight beaches near their home and struck lucky with the massive humerus last Wednesday (January 27) before reporting their find.
The pair, who are both construction workers, had to carry it off the beach on their shoulders as it was so heavy – it weighs 55-66 lbs (25-30kg).
Dinosaur Isle Museum, which has bones and teeth of both creatures in its collection, has offered the brothers advice on how to preserve the bone

‘We saw it on the beach just hanging out, the sea would have taken it if we were not there as the tide was close and it would have been smashed up by the waves,’ Joe said.

‘Straight away when we saw it we knew what we had found and thought it was a dinosaur fossil.

‘Nobody has found much of an elephant or mammoth on those beaches, so it’s quite rare for the location.

‘We were lucky, anyone would have spotted it if they were on the beach. The location is quite important so we are checking it daily to see if any more appear. ‘

Joe and his brother are now trying to preserve it by keeping it in a cold damp area and slowly drying it out, which may take months, but eventually hope to get it professionally examined.

‘Until lockdown is over we can’t get it checked out, we have been in contact with the Natural History Museum as well and hopefully take it there for an examination as its a very important find,’ Joe said.

‘It would be nice for it be in a museum or keep it in a display cabinet at home.’


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here