Ancient Elk deer remains found on Isle of Man beach

The skeleton of the Elk was found on Kirk Michael beach encased in stone. Credit: Manx National Heritage

The skeleton of a giant deer has been discovered on a beach in the West of the Isle of Man.

Sharp-eyed locals spotted the ancient bones of an Elk deer encased in rock, which had fallen from a cliff in Kirk Michael. Large blocks of silt and clay broke off and on hitting the beach, broke open to reveal the deer.

Following reports of their discovery, the remains were excavated immediately due to their vulnerability.

Archaeologists from Manx National Heritage are studying the remains to find out exactly how old the skeleton is, with an estimated age range of around 10,000 years.

A substantial part of the skeleton was present, though the skull and antlers were missing.

The cliffs around Kirk Michael are a geological cross-section of gravels, sands, silts and clays which began to be laid down as the last ice age was ending, just a few tens of thousands of years ago.

Until about 10,000 years ago, the climate and landscape suited great deer, in part because of the availability of minerals which helped them grow a strong skeleton and antlers.

Some of those minerals were derived from marsh plants, which sometimes attracted the deer to waterlogged ground from which they could not escape.

MNH Curator of Natural History Laura McCoy explained more about what would happen to the deer next.