Two boys who uncovered bones along the Columbia River may have discovered the most complete ancient deer skeleton in existence, a Richland anthropologist says.
The bones could be the best evidence anthropologists have of two types of deer known to exist 7 million years ago, according to Jim Chatters.
Andrew and Rick Gilmore were hunting for agates last week in northern Franklin County when they found the skull, neck and front-leg bones.
Chatters has discussed the discovery with experts around the United States.
Chatters said he was told the bones could belong to a deer-like animal of the pediomeryx group that existed in what’s called the Hemphillian time. However, characteristics of the skeleton do not completely match traits of the pediomeryx, Chatters said.
The bones also could be from a true deer, which were just beginning to appear 7 million years ago, he said. Only a few fragmented bones of ancient true deer are known to exist.
“Whichever it is, it’s the most complete skeleton known,” Chatters said. “We might end up naming it a new thing.”