Elephant skull found unique in central Turkey, study finds

A 7.5 million year old complete skull fossil found on the shores of Yamula Dam Lake in Turkey’s central Kayseri province has turned out to be an important find. The skull belongs to Choerolophodon pentelici, known as the ancestor of elephants.

The examination of the fossil, which was found last year, was conducted by one of the few experts on proboscidea – a taxonomic order of Afrotherian mammals – in the world, Kayseri Metropolitan Municipality said in a statement.

Juha Saarinen, a professor in the Department of Geosciences and Geography at the University of Helsinki, came to Kayseri and completed the final skull examination, the statement said.

Okşan Başoğlu, head of the excavation team that continues to work at the discovery site, said Finnish scientist Saarinen “worked on the large complete skull for two full days.”

“This will be published in a very respected newspaper abroad because it is a very important fossil,” she said, quoting Saarinen.

Juha Saarinen works on the elephant skull, Kayseri, central Turkey, March 11, 2021. (Photo AA)

Başoğlu said it would be a point of reference for them and that soon the names of Kayseri and Yamula will take their place in the world literature on the subject.

“For this reason, this is a very essential development for us. Kayseri, in a sense, will be a center of paleontology, ”she said, referring to the fossil-based study of the history of life on Earth.

She said laboratory studies are ongoing.

Saarinen, who has worked in many parts of Europe in the Middle East and from China to the United States, said the complete skull fossil belonging to Choerolophodon pentelici is the only sample in the world and is larger in mass than all the elephant fossils found in other locations around the world.

Examining the fully preserved and unique skull specimen and other fossils found in the province, he said Kayseri will become a point of reference for international paleontology.

During excavations in the region since 2017, samples of giraffes, four to five species known as the ancestors of elephants, rhinos, three-hoofed horses and hornets have been found.

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