Antlers of extinct giant Irish Elk found at the bottom of Lough Neagh

Antlers of extinct giant Irish Elk found at the bottom of Lough Neagh

THE antlers of an ancient Irish Elk have been found by a fisherman in Lough Neagh, Co. Tyrone.

Raymond McElroy was fishing on the lake on Wednesday when his nets snagged on something a little bigger than a trout.

With the help of fellow fisherman Charlie Coyle, Raymond pulled up the perfectly preserved antlers and skull of a giant Irish Elk.

The creature was the largest deer that ever lived and has been extinct for thousands of years.

Raymond's catch has a span of more than 3 metres and is believed to be at least 10,000 years old.

Irish elk (Megaloceros giganteus) have been extinct for more than 10,000 years, and were one of the largest deer species to ever roam the Earth, according to the University of California Museum of Paleontology.

"It came up in the net on the side of the boat. I thought it was a bit of black oak to begin with," he told Belfast Live.

"I was shocked to begin with when I got it over the side and saw the skull and antlers."

Charlie added: "We thought it was an old tree or something. Raymond kept going round with the boat to try to get a different angle.

"Then when it came to to the top of the water...he saw its head.

"He said its an elk! I said it's the devil."

The antlers were discovered in the same area of Lough Neagh - known as 'The Thorns' - where the jawbone of an Irish Elk was found in 2014, and it is believed the finds are from the same animal.

After spending thousands of years at the bottom of a lake, the antlers are now in a garage awaiting a new home.

** Originally Published on: Sep 7, 2018 

Here is a social clip from BBC - an interview with fisherman Raymond McElroy on the rare find from his nets.