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24 September 2014

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The Leeds hippo
The bones of the Leeds Hippo
One of the strangest discoveries in Leeds...

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The site where the bones were discovered is just off where the Armley Gyratory is today.

The bones were originally dated wrongly because they had been coated in gelatine which affected the results.

The Leeds Geological Association decided to use this early mammalian inhabitant of Leeds in its logo.

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In 1851, workmen digging clay in Messrs Longley's brick field in Wortley, Leeds, discovered several huge bones, so big that it was thought "they could not be Christians' bones".

As a result, they were brought to the attention of Henry Denny, curator of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society Museum, who identified them as the bones of the Great Northern Hippopotamus. He visited the site daily and collected many specimens.

Hippo - London Zoo
Hippos similar to this once roamed around Leeds!

Although a number of small bones were destroyed before the discovery of the massive thigh bones, Denny gathered numerous bones and teeth which enabled him to identify the animals.

There were the part remains of three hippopotami - an aged individual and two adults - an elephant and an auroch (extinct wild ox).

Later research identified the animals as Hippopotamus amphibius, Elephas primigenius and Bos primigenius.

The bones were scientifically dated using a sample from a molar tooth. The Hippo was found to be from around 130,000 - 117,000 years ago.

The bones of the Leeds hippo are now kept at the Leeds Museum Resource Centre.

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