Elk NetworkRare Elk Antlers on Display in Michigan

General | April 29, 2021

It began as a summertime family project but is now on display for the whole world to see. An ancient elk skull with attached antlers dating back to the late 1700s or early 1800s is now on display at a museum in Michigan.

The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) just unveiled the find in a new exhibit. Michael Bleau and several family members found it at the bottom of a family pond in the summer of 2020 when they moved a swimming platform off the water. They thought tree limbs or something else got tangled up in its anchor but it turned out to be the skull.

Radiocarbon dating determined the skull to be approximately 220 years old. Scientists believe the relic belongs to the extinct Eastern elk species. The skull is coupled with bones from another elk found in 1968.

“Both finds are important,” Dr. Cory Redman, GRPM science curator, told WXMI-TV. “They represent the extinct subspecies of elk, Eastern elk, which went extinct in Michigan around 1875. Eastern elk were exterminated so quickly it is difficult to determine their original range or study their physical differences, because few specimens exist in collections.”

(Photo source: Grand Rapids Public Museum)