Israel discovers 500,000-year-old giant elephant tusk

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A 500,000-year-old elephant tusk was discovered in Israel's southern coastal plain, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Wednesday.

The 2.5-meter-long tusk fossil, which belonged to a straight-tusked elephant known as Palaeoloxodon antiquus, was unearthed and being researched by the IAA, Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University, according to the IAA.

The discovery sheds new light on the fascinating life of prehistoric humanity, especially their hunting habits, it said.

This gigantic species apparently appeared in the region about 800,000 years ago and became extinct 400,000 years ago, it added.

Previous archaeological findings showed the excavation site dates back to the late Lower Paleolithic period, as flint tools and bone remains of wild cattle, hippopotami, deer, wild boars and wild horses were discovered at the site.

"This is the largest complete fossil tusk ever found at a prehistoric site in the Near East," said IAA prehistorian Avi Levy, the director of the excavation.

The archaeologists are studying whether the tusk, detached from the skull and the rest of the body, is a remnant of a hunted elephant or was collected by the local prehistoric inhabitants, and whether it had social or spiritual significance. 

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