1 of 6 | Scientists from the Israel Antiquities Authority, Tel Aviv University and Ben Gurion University are seen Wednesday at a site where a large tusk from an extinct elephant species was discovered, near Kibbutz Revadim, Israel. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Archaeologists in Israel announced Wednesday that they have uncovered a piece of ancient animal history -- a large tusk that belonged to an extinct elephant that used to roam the Earth hundreds of thousands of years ago.
Scientists found the 8-foot-long tusk near Kibbutz Revadim in southern Israel. They say it shines a new light on life in prehistoric humanity.
Archaeologists, paleontologists and conservators from the Israel Antiquities Authority, Tel Aviv University and Ben Gurion University were involved in the excavation project.
"To my surprise, I spotted something that looked like a large animal bone peeping out of the ground. When I looked closer, I realized that it was 'the real thing," Eitan Mor, a biologist from Jerusalem who first found the fossil, said in a statement. "I rushed to report it to the Israel Antiquities Authority."
The tusk belonged to the straight-tusked elephant, which scientists say roamed Europe and western Asia before their extinction almost a half-million years ago.
Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI
"From our previous archaeological excavations at Revadim, we knew that the site was settled in the Late Lower Paleolithic period, as stone and flint tools, as well as animal bone, remains were retrieved," prehistorian Avi Levy, director of the excavation, said in a statement. "But finding this half a million-year-old complete elephant tusk in such a good condition is something else.
"This is the largest complete fossil tusk ever found at a prehistoric site in Israel or the Near East."
Scientists say the straight-tusked elephant -- which was very large in size -- first appeared about 800,000 years ago and became extinct 400,000 years ago.
"[The] elephant [was] larger than the present-day African elephant," Israel Antiquities Authority Archaeozoologist LeePerry-Gal said.
Other tusks belonging to the elephant species have also been found in Britain, Greece, Germany, Italy and Spain.