Archeologists working in the United Kingdom have been shocked and baffled at a new discovery that contains over 8000 bones of ancient frogs and toads at an iron age site. The bones have been found in a ditch at the site near Cambridge and are being estimated to be the remains of about 350 amphibians.
The discovery was made by archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology (Mola) Headland Infrastructure, who were conducting digs in the area as part of the National Highways improvement scheme. They have said that the remains were found in an area where a settlement existed during the middle and late Iron Age (400BC-AD43).
However, the archaeologists are not sure about the reason behind the presence of these huge numbers of bones in the area and are baffled by the findings.
The discovery is unique since archaeologists have not found similar bones of amphibians from the region or even those located close to rivers. However, they maintain that it’s not the find but the quantity of the find that is staggering. “In my experience, mainly working on sites in London, we don’t get that many frogs. To have so many bones coming from one ditch is extraordinary,” Dr. Vicki Ewens, Mola’s senior archaeozoologist a specialist in ancient animal bones, told The Observer.
The bones belong to a common frog, the species found in the pond, making it an interesting find since archeologists have not yet discovered possible evidence of pool frogs from the ancient period. While the archeologists rule out the possibility of people at the time consuming these frogs, they suspect that it could have been a case of migration where the frogs might have fallen into the ditch and failed to come out.
Analysis of bones indicated no cuts or burn marks.
Scientists have said that frogs are known to move in large numbers and these could be signs of a prehistoric frog tragedy. The migration could have been triggered by extreme winters forcing these amphibians to move out and find a new home. They also suspect a disease could have been the cause of their demise, similar to the ranavirus that struck frogs in the UK in the 1980s.
Apart from frog bones, the team also discovered artifacts and human remains during the 40 excavations that took place between 2016 and 2018 across an area spanning 234 hectares.