The Bleau family in Fenton Michigan had an interesting discovery while moving their swimming platform over the 4th of July weekend.
The family was pulling a swimming platform out of Sullivan Lake, located 20 miles south of Flint. The platforms anchor grabbed the antlers as they pulled it out.
“We’re all kind of shocked,” Michael Bleau told Mlive. “It’s amazing that this thing survived that long down at the bottom of the lake and that we snagged it with an anchor line – just some random happenstance – and dragged it out.”
The skull was taken to Cranbrook Institute of Science, where it was radiocarbon dated. Michael Stafford, director of Science at Cranbrook, said the skull belongs to an extinct subspecies of elk present in North America until 1875. The results put the skull and antlers close to the end of the Eastern elk’s existence in Michigan.
Analytics from the radiocarbon dating lab determined the skull was around 220 years old with a plus/minus range of 30 years. The youngest possible age is 1830, and the oldest being 1770.
In an email, Stafford said, ” The date is not a surprise and will make a terrific addition to our database of information about these extinct creatures in the Great Lakes.”
The Elk roaming the eastern United States today are Rocky Mountain elk reintroduced to some areas. The Rocky Mountain elk is a very close relative to the Eastern elk.