Without question, this is the most fascinating and impressive deformed Ice Age megafauna vertebra we have ever seen. It is an AXIS vertebra from a European Woolly rhinoceros, known scientifically as Coelodonta antiquitatis. The mystery is just how did this vertebra become so severely deformed. It appears as if it broke and then healed in a crooked manner. The ridges of the centrum have excessive edge growth. The vertebrae are extremely solid and robust with heavy ossification throughout. This specimen really deserves scientific study to determine the nature of the injury as it could offer some indication to the behavior of the beast should the deformity be attributed to an action injury.
(A) Schematic drawing indicating the individual second and third cervical vertebra. (B) Photograph of the same specimen (lateral view, adult; length 190.5 mm, height 177.8 mm). The specimen originates from Central Europe, dating approx. 80,000–20,000 years ago. The fusion is likely due to a segmentation defect, due to disturbances of the early embryonic segmentation process of the prevertebrae (somites). The contact area between the two elements does not show any sign of osteophyte formation, which is typical for fusions due to reactive bone formation (osteophytes) in degenerative processes.
Woolly Rhinoceros fossils are far less abundant than other Ice Age beasts such as Woolly Mammoth. This vertebra is INTACT and with NO REPAIR AND NO RESTORATION. A highly recommended fossil from one of Europe's classic beasts of the Ice Age.
This fossil would also make a great compliment to a primitive man stone tool and weapon collection as they lived alongside each other at one point in history and were hunted and revered by both Neanderthal man and Cro-Magnon man.