Ibaraki High School Student Discovers Nearly Complete Ancient Elephant Skull

Ibaraki Elephant SkullThe newly discovered fossilized stegolophodon skull; its tusk is measured against a 30 cm ruler.

Ibaraki High School Student Discovers Nearly Complete Ancient Elephant Skull
Yomiuri Shimbun: ほぼ完全な古代ゾウの頭部、茨城の高校生が発見
December 16, 2011

The nearly complete fossilized skull of a stegolophodon (the lower jaw is missing) has been discovered in Nogami, Hitachi Ōmiya City, Ibaraki Prefecture.

Mizudo Kiryō High School second year student Yumeki Hoshika (17) discovered the skull while doing a geological survey. Judging from its level in the ground stratum, the animal lived 16.5 million years ago. Ibaraki University Paleontology Professor Hisao Andō said “only individual parts of their skulls had been discovered until now, so this a huge step in understanding the evolution of mammals.”

The fossilized skull is approximately 60 cm long and 30 cm tall; the tusks are about 26 cm long. The skull was buried with the crown facing down. After being contacted by Mr. Hoshika and company, the Ibaraki Natural Museum and Ibaraki University investigated the site themselves and determined that the fossil came from a stegolophodon. A press conference was held to announce and explain the discovery on the 15th.

According to the university, the stegolophodon is a kind of elephant that lived in Japan from 17 million to 16 million B.C.

Parts of skulls and lower jaws, mostly molars, have been discovered in 7 prefectures (Yamagata, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tōyama, Ishikawa, and Nagasaki), but this is the first nearly complete skull to be found.

On the 11th, Mr. Hoshika, who does geological surveys as a hobby, coincidentally unearthed the skull. “I knew it was a fossil from a mammal, but I didn’t realize it was a stegolophodon skull,” he said. He was happy about the discovery.

From here on, the museum will undertake a general public examination of the fossil.

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One Comment on “Ibaraki High School Student Discovers Nearly Complete Ancient Elephant Skull”

  1. JD Japan Says:

    One time I dug something out of the ground. It was a rock. I was 5 and so disappointed…


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