Saturday, 21 May 2011


Met up with Chris Nowers and Julie Shead on Saturday 21st at their East Mersea caravan, so that they could show me their almost complete bison skeleton that they uncovered recently on the mudflats. Steve Boreham from Cambridge University came and looked at the bones a fortnight ago and confirmed the bison bones as being about 120,000 years old.
The photo above was taken earlier by Chris and shows all of the bones on display. The ribs, skull, vertebrae, jawbones, femur and shoulder-blade are some of the recognisable bones here.

Chris had laid out the bones on his table for us to admire. These had been excavated within the last few weeks and he'd done a good job in cleaning all the mud off.

The bison skull was the very first bone that was sticking out of the mud and led to the discovery of other bones beside it. The short horns of the bison can be seen on this skull. Young Louie Shead, nephew of Julie, spotted the first bone sticking out and helped Chris to recover some of the bones from the mud.

These are the two parts of the upper jaw, still with some of the teeth in place. Although many of the bones have decayed a bit, it was still possible to hold the lower jaw next to the upper jaw and place it beside the skull, so that you could get an idea of the size and shape of the head.

Once the tide went out Chris took me out onto the mud and after a few sweeps with his hand in the hole, pulled out another vertebrae. It's likely there are more bones to be found and we're hoping that a professional dig might get organised in the near future.

This bison dates from the warm Ipswichian interglacial period 120,000 ago and appears to have come from a site very close to the East Mersea "Hippo site", where bones of a hippo, elephant sp, bison/auroch and giant deer were found several decades ago. Steve suggested that this animal may have walked into some swamp and got stuck, dying in situ. The bones had showed no signs of being attacked or eaten by a predator and that it had probably died naturally.
A bison bone was also recovered from under the country park cliff in the late 1980's.

1 comment:

Sammy B said...

Think we have found a left hand lower jawbone of the same or similar creature at the beach by Fen Farm over the weekend. We are very excited about it and will be in touch with you if you are interested.