Giant Tusks: Window to an Ancient World
TWO huge prehistoric tusks could prove a "gold mine" of clues about Europe's past, say researchers excavating the site in Greece where they were found.
The petrified remains of a mastodon - a primitive elephant-like creature - with tusks up to 16ft long, were found in an area where digs have uncovered remains of several prehistoric animals over the past decade.The team said the tusks were the largest to be found from the ancestor of the elephant.
"To find a tusk five metres long was a big surprise," Evangelia Tsoukala, assistant professor of geology at the University of Thessaloniki, said.
The second tusk found near Milia, 260 miles north of Athens, measured more than 15 feet.
"That's astonishing. This is a fantastic find," said Dave Martill, a paleontologist at the University of Portsmouth, an independent expert.
"These animals, in their bones, hold a whole load of information about the environment at the time - not just the animal," Mr Martill said. The tusks have growth rings in them, which scientists can analyse for signals about seasonality and climate. "They offer fantastic potential for studying not just the animals but ancient climates."
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