Israeli archaeologists recently discovered the huge tusk of a prehistoric pachyderm near a kibbutz in southern Israel, a remnant of a huge animal that early humans hunted around half a million years ago.
The Israeli Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday that the 2.5-meter (yard) fossil of a long-extinct straight-tusked elephant was found during an excavation by researchers at Tel Aviv and Ben-Gurion universities.
It is the “largest complete fossil tusk ever found at a prehistoric site in Israel or the Middle East,” said Israeli Antiquities Authority prehistory expert Avi Levy.
Measurements of the site placed it in the Lower Paleolithic, about 500,000 years ago, based on the stone tools found in the surroundings, according to the institution.
Omry Barzilai, an archaeologist with the AIA, described the find as “very puzzling, very enigmatic,” because it was unclear whether ancient peoples had hunted the animal at the same site or whether they had carried the elephant’s tusk there.
The tusk was found near a kibbutz on the central plain parallel to the Israeli Mediterranean coast. But half a million years ago, when the ancient elephant died, that now arid terrain was probably a swamp or a shallow lake, an ideal habitat for ancient hominids.