Ice Age milk teeth from reindeer which died on rocks discovered by Torquay Museum team

By Culture24 Staff | 23 February 2011
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A photo of an ancient pair of mottled brown molar teeth which once belonged to a reindeer
Baby reindeer gnashers from 10,000 years ago at the Torquay Museum© Torquay Museum, torquaymuseum.org
A set of Ice Age reindeer teeth found alongside carcass bones and a 400-million-year-old shard of sandstone from a Devon quarry have been discovered by experts carrying out a huge archive project at Torquay Museum.

The milk teeth from the young deer were spotted with its skeleton during excavations at Lummaton in 1961. It is believed that the lack of cut marks on the bones of the corpse indicates it died after stumbling into rocks 10,000 years ago.

Documentation Assistant Jenny Humphries said the teeth were being pushed out by the mammal’s erupting adult molars. Sediment in the fissures of the rocks helped keep the remains from the species, which later became extinct throughout Britain as the climate warmed up, in excellent condition.

The sandstone fragment has been dated to the Lower Devonian era, a critical period in evolution when almost all marine species became extinct.

The fine-grained piece has a distinctive red-brown colour, recognisable in hundreds of structures in the region.

“It has been extensively used for building in the area around Torbay and is still easy to spot in many of the buildings,” said Clare Jones, of the museum’s Geology department.

“In the past local stone was often used for building due to the expense of transporting heavy building materials.”

The finds are part of an 18-month scheme to catalogue the rocks and fossil collections at the highly-regarded venue, aiming to understand and interpret Torbay’s remarkable geology and cave deposits.
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