Park ranger Alex Deans with the skull he found. It will now be carbon-dated to find out if it belongs to a mammoth. Picture: Garry McHarg
THE shores of a Scottish loch may have been the territory of a prehistoric woolly mammoth, experts said yesterday.
Park rangers patrolling the grounds of Strathclyde Country Park in Lanarkshire discovered a three-foot long skull on Saturday.
Archaeology experts from Glasgows Hunterian Museum are now carbon-dating fragments to discover its age.
Richard Grady, the director of Glasgow Zoopark, says the skull could belong to a woolly mammoth which had been preserved in a peat bog for thousands of years. He said: "If it is a mammoth it would be a fantastic find. "
Mr Grady also suggested that the skull could belong to an African elephant. He added: "It looks very old and may have been submerged under water for some time."
Dr Euan MacKie, former senior curator of prehistoric archaeology at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow and now honorary research fellow, said carbon tests would be taken from the skull to find its age.
He said: "We would take a small bone sample and then carbon date it. That will give us a date with an accuracy of around 200 years. If it is a mammoth that will date it back to around 50,000 years before the last ice age and will be a very rare find."
The discovery was made by Alex Deans and Margo Richardson, who were patrolling at 8am on Saturday .
Mr Deans, 36, from Bellshill, said: "Something odd always happens on my shift. We were just driving along doing our normal morning patrol when we came across this huge skull.
"We thought it might be a bison or a rhino but we really had no clue. We noticed it while driving through the park near the loch it was massive and we could not miss it.
" We are curious now to know where it came from and what will happen to it now."
He added: "This is not the first time I have found something a bit bizarre on my rounds. I once found a bloke tied up and blindfolded in the park."
Ruth McGuire, also a ranger at the park, said she suspected someone may have inherited the skull and did not know what to do with it.
She said: "We get people bringing things here all the time. They put terrapins in the loch and release pet rabbits in the woods.
"If it is an African bull elephant it could be a big game trophy from years ago. Maybe someone discovered it clearing out a late relatives cellar and thought they might get in trouble for having it. They probably thought we would find a use for it."
A spokeswoman for North Lanarkshire Council last night appealed for anyone with any information to come forward.
She said: "This is a fascinating find and someone must know where it came from. Ifit was part of someones collection then they must be missing it. We want to trace the owners and find out what it is.
© The Scotsman, 23 rd May 2000
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