A “well-preserved, largely complete” skull of a long-extinct woolly rhinoceros has been uncovered by a digger driver in fenland farmland close to Cambridge.
Jamie Jordan, a “self-taught palaeontologist” and head of the archaeology group Fossils Galore in the Cambridgshire town of March, said of the fossil: “I couldn’t believe my eyes.”
“It’s a very rare find so it’s going to take pride of place at the fossil centre,” he added.
Woolly rhinos roamed Britain until their extinction around 35,000 years ago and their remains have been dug up all across Europe and Russia. This extinction date means that the skull must be at least 35,000 years old, but could be much older.
Today, wildlife watchers in Cambridgeshire are unlikely to come face to face with anything more alarming than a badger, but the area was once home to some formidable prehistoric creatures, many of which are on public display in the city’s Sedgwick Museum.
Remains of cave lions, mammoths, wild boar, walruses, Pleistocene hippopotamuses and straight-toothed elephants have all been found close to Cambridge, as well as wild oxen complete with injuries caused by human-made tools. Fossilised sharks with dagger-like teeth have also been uncovered in Cherry Hinton.