August 7, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Michigan girl finds elk skeleton relic

Traverse City A young Michigan girl recently discovered an animal skeleton that could be up to 300 years old.

Sonja Daniels Moehle, 10, and her dad, David, found the remains in a Benzie County lake while they were kayaking on Easter. She and her mother, Amy, contacted several experts and had the bones tested.

Radiocarbon dating tests determined its an eastern elk skeleton thats more than 120 years old, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported. The results show that the animal was likely a subspecies of elk that was hunted into extinction by 1900.

Lou Bender, an elk expert from New Mexico State University, explained to the family how to read the radiocarbon test results. It determined with 95 percent certainty that the elk lived between 1720 and 1890. But there is a small chance that the elk is older or younger. Bender said its also possible the elk was from a different subspecies that was imported to Michigan or kept on a game farm.

The family plans to do DNA testing to determine whether its more genetically similar to other elk species or red deer. They created a website and online campaign to help raise money for testing.

Sonja recently spoke to a class at the University of Michigan.

I think the exciting part for Sonja is she is becoming more confident in telling her story, Amy Daniels Moehle said.

She said her family has enjoyed their months-long investigation into the origin of the skeleton.

How beautiful that they found him and that we could bring the history back to the present, she said.