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A pre-historic artefact has been found in the Middle East in the form of an elephant tusk.
Thought to date back to when they were hunted by pre-historic humans, this tusk was found near Reitan in southern Israel by archaeologists.
Measuring at 8ft long and being around 500,000 years old, the scientists were amazed by what they found.
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It was found by a visiting biologist, Eitan Mor, who was researching on ancient elephants in the region. The discovery was revealed to historians and biologists, who were at a complete loss for words.
Early findings reveal that the tusk could be from a beast twice the size of the African Elephant, reports the Mirror.
“To my surprise, I spotted something that looked like a large animal bone peeping out of the ground,” said the tusk's finder, Mr Mor.
“When I looked closer, I realised that it was ‘the real thing’, so I rushed to report it.”
According to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), scientists confirmed it was the largest complete tusk fossil ever found in the country.
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“Finding this half a million-year-old complete elephant tusk in such a good condition is something else!” said the IAA's Avi Levy.
“This is the largest complete fossil tusk ever found at a prehistoric site in Israel or the Near East.”
The tusk is currently under a proper excavation, as its age means it is extremely fragile and likely to disintegrate when exposed to air and sunlight.
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Archaeologists also think there could also be a link to prehistoric man – given that the tusk was separate from the rest of the elephant’s body and was found at a site littered with human artefacts.
In a joint statement, professor Israel Hershkovitz from the Dan David Center at Tel Aviv University, and Dr. Omry Barzilai of the IAA, explained the amount of material remains such as stone tools found around the excavation site suggest "there was a substantial number of people at the site in one period of time and that elephants were hunted”.
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“In the hot dry climate in our region, elephant meat could not stay fresh for long, so it must have been consumed quickly by many people, probably as part of a communal event," they said.
“It apparently appeared in our region about 800,000 years ago, and by 400,000 years ago became extinct.”
The straight-tusked elephant could grow up to 4.5m tall and weighed up to 14 tonnes, according to London's Natural History Museum. That’s compared to a height of 3.3m for the African elephant, which weights up to seven tonnes.
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