A perfectly preserved skull of an auroch, the ancestor to all cattle that graze fields after the middle ages, has been found on a UK beach by a professional musician. The discovery by Danielle Keys has now led to a spate of online offers since confirmation the skull belonged to an auroch.
Male aurochs were six feet in height and weighed around 236 stones, with experts believing the creature evolved in Asia before migrating across to Eastern Europe during the middle ages. They were wiped out in the 17th century, with the last known auroch dying in Poland in 1627. The horns of the beast were said to be 80cm long but thankfully like their modern counterparts, the auroch was a herbivore.
The unique discovery was made while Keys, 51, was taking a walk along Blyth Beach during low tide in early November when she saw a large, boney object protruding from the sand. The discovery prompted keys to take photos and attempt to Google what it could be, ultimately leading to her contacting the Great North Museum in Newcastle who confirmed it was from an auroch.
“Luckily when I went back down the next day with the car it was still there” Danielle was relieved to discover. “It is quite exciting really. It is not every day that you find something as unusual or as old as that. It’s very large and I can only imagine what it must have looked like when it was alive.“I will be going back down to the beach over the next few weeks at low tide and having a look around to see if there’s any other remains, because you never know.”
Several potential buyers have already contacted Danielle with online offers for the 2.5ft long skull, which she admits is something she’s happy to part with. “I haven’t done anything with it yet, it’s still just drying out. Someone has made us an offer for it, but I’m holding off yet. I’m not sure who will buy but it has to go. It’s just too large to stay here.”“A Really Nice Find”Keeper of biology at the Great North Museum, Dan Gordon, said: “The aurochs skull is quite distinctive, and it has these characteristic curving horns, large eye sockets and nasal cavities that you can see in this skull. What that shows us is that although it was a large and powerful animal, it needed good eyesight and a strong sense of smell to detect predators like the wolves and bears that would have lived alongside it in the largely forested landscape of Britain at that time.
Here in the North East, aurochs’ bones do turn up from time to time, which reflects the fact that these animals were living here for many thousands of years before they went extinct and they left lots of their physical remains behind. This skull is more unusual because it’s relatively intact and that allows us to see some of the features of the animal, so it’s a really nice find.”