Sunday 14 July 2024
 11°C   NNE Fresh Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

News / Ancient mammoth tusk excites archaeologists

The foot long section of mammoth tusk found near the Total gas plant construction site. Photo AF Images

EXCITEMENT has broken out in archaeological circles after a section of mammoth tusk was discovered in a burn close to Sullom Voe, in Shetland’s north mainland.

Surveyors working close to the Total gas plant construction site came across the curved bone two weeks ago while they were examining land for future pipe laying.

The section of tusk measures just over one foot in length, but stood out because of its thickness, weight and curved shape.

Shetland archaeologist Val Turner said initially the surveyors thought it could have been a walrus tusk, but as soon as she saw it she realised it was far too big.

“I had never seen anything like it before and could not imagine what something so thick, heavy and that shape could have come from,” she said.

Turner sent the tusk off to the Paleontology Museum of Uppsala University, in Sweden, who have the largest fossil collection in Scandinavia.

“I was amazed when they contacted me last week to say it came from a mammoth,” she said.

“This is a first for Shetland and depending on how it got here it could shed a very important new light on the islands’ ancient past.”

Shetland Amenity Trust has sealed off the area where the tusk was found ready for experts from Uppsala University, who arrive on Monday to carry out an archaeological assessment to see if there are any more mammoth bones to be found.

“Part of what the assessment would have to show is whether a mammoth was living here at any point or whether the tusk got there by other means,” Turner said.

Avril Narr, of Uppsala University’s evolutionary biology department, said mammoths were normally associated with northern Russia or Canada, but it was quite possible one could have come to Shetland at the end of the last Ice Age around 12,000 years ago.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

 

“Mammoth remains have been found further south than Shetland, so there is no reason why such a creature could not have survived here,” she said.

“However mammoth tusks have been appearing with increasing frequency in Siberia and elsewhere because of ice melting with climate change, so it is also possible this tusk was washed here by the ocean current.”

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.

 
Categories

Newsletters

Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.