Fishermen caught something unexpected in a freshwater lough in Northern Ireland – a huge, antlered skull estimated to be at least 10,500 years old.
The skull is six feet across and almost fully intact, and is believed to be an Irish elk (Megaloceros giganteus), a huge species of deer extinct for ten millennia.
The skull was caught in a fishing net in Lough Neagh by two men, Raymond McElroy and Charlie Coyle, fishing for pollan.
McElroy told Belfast Live, ‘I was shocked to begin with when I got it over the side and saw the skull and antlers.’
Coyle said, ‘He said, “It’s an elk!” I said it’s the devil.’
The skull was found in the same area as an Irish elk jawbone found in 2014, and the two men believe it could be from the same animal.
The jawbone was dated by experts and found to be 14,000 years old.
Irish elk are a species of deer which stood up to seven feet tall, and which roamed across Europe, northern Asia and northern Africa.
The new remains are being stored in a garage while authorities decide where they will be housed.