Rare ice age elk antlers discovered in an Irish bog have sold for $28,000 in Auckland, New Zealand, according to the New Zealand Herald.
These giant fossilized antlers and skull belonged to an Irish elk (Megaloceros giganteus) that became extinct approximately 11,000 years ago. The name Irish elk can be misleading, however, because this ancient mammal was not an elk and it was not exclusively Irish. It was actually a giant deer that, according to the University of California Museum of Paleontology, stood about 7 feet tall at the shoulder with horns that spanned 3.2 meters (more than 10 feet) and populated areas beyond present-day Ireland. Their remains have been found throughout Europe, Asia and Africa; however, the most preserved fossils are typically found in Irish bogs.
According to the New Zealand Herald, for most of the 20th century, the mount hung in the master bedroom of Major Robert Adams Wilson’s private hunting lodge. When he died in 1964, Wilson gifted the antlers to his son, Murray, who two years ago bequeathed them to Malcolm McIntosh, 70, who camped on Wilson’s land as a boy scout.
“They’re so big, and we’ve got no room for them in the new house,” McIntosh told the New Zealand Herald. “If I put them above the double bed, the first thing that would happen would be that I’d be thrown out, and they’d be close behind me. So I thought rather than them getting damaged, broken or stolen, we’ll move them on.”
The bidding war took place at Cordy’s auciton house on Tuesday, November 1. The New Zealand Herald reported that four phone bidders went back and forth over the antlers that were estimated to be worth $8,000-$15,000. The hammer finally came down at $28,000.
Cordy’s auctioneer Andrew Grigg told the New Zealand Herald that the antlers were one of the more unusual and rare items he had ever sold.
“It’s something that we’re very excited about having in the sale,” Andrew Grigg of Cordy’s fine art and antique appraisers told the New Zealand Herald. “We knew we had something that was a rare find for this country.”