In over three decades working in paleontology and visiting museums all over the world, we have never seen or heard of a European Ice Age fossil skull as unique, rare, and as impressive as this. This amazing natural history treasure is a complete skull of a prehistoric Ibex (Capra ibex), found in the Carpathian Mountains in a cave deposit many years ago before fossil collecting was forbidden in the region. While one may see antique skulls (less than 10,000 years old), you will never see another irrefutable prehistoric Ibex skull, outside of this incredibly rare offer!
Because of the fragile nature of the skull of an Ibex, having one survive prehistory intact, we though to be impossible, until we saw this specimen. The only reason it survived the ages is that it became completely covered in "cave pearls", calcite concretion formations that covered all bone and provided a stone protective layer over the entire skull. Furthermore, the stone adhered the skull at an angle, to the cave floor. This portion of the cave floor was removed by the original collector and now serves as the base for the skull, giving it the impression that it is sleeping on its side. Because of this, it has been affectionately labeled "The Sleeping Ibex".
The original collector carefully used pneumatic tools to remove the concretions off the teeth, exposing them on both sides and giving a glimpse of the IMPECCABLE preservation that lies beneath the stone layer it is encased in. The teeth and bone are so perfect, it is as if the Ibex just died yesterday yet, the cave pearl stone formations covering the skull prove its age as a true fossil of prehistoric origin. It was found in association with Cave Bear and Cave Hyena fossils, according to the original collection notes. The most delicate of anatomy on this skull, is still perfectly preserved. The entire cranium is present, both horn cores are complete and intact and even the fragile cheek and nasal bones are still in place!
This is the kind of "Holy Grail" fossil that a collector can boast of no one else having, anywhere! Fossils like these DEFINE a collection as one of true "World Class" importance with rare specimens such as this, becoming unforgettable icons of any exhibition. Not just a once-in-a-lifetime discovery, but a once-in-MANY-lifetimes discovery that is every bit one of the rarest forms of natural art, as much as it is a rare scientific specimen. It is much more rare than a Smilodon skull or a Tyrannosaurus skull, both that would sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, with multiples of those types of skulls circulating the globe. This is the only complete undeniably fossil skull of a prehistoric Ibex you probably will ever encounter.
The Capra ibex is a wild mountain goat that thrived during the Ice Age in Europe. It is one of the most famous animals depicted on numerous cave drawings and paintings. No doubt, with its exotic and impressive horn display and unmatched skill in climbing rocky terrain, it was a revered and respected beast by prehistoric humans. This animal possessed very large curved horns with pronounced ridges running across the full length of these horns. They were stout beasts with short legs and hoofed feet that were especially designed for irregular terrain. These creatures are alive today in limited regions and are called the Alpine Ibex. They thrive in the most extreme and hazardous environments, consisting of arctic-like temperatures and seemingly impossible to navigate rocky mountain faces. Even today, very little is known about these animals because their habitat is practically unreachable by scientists for study. Aside from their magnificent horns, their hooves are uniquely designed to maintain a sure footing on rock.
Capra ibex live in herds from 7 to 30 individuals with some males living alone. They are diurnal animals meaning they are active during the day, with their most active periods being early morning and late afternoon. Their height at the shoulders range from 2.3 to 3.1 feet. Body weights range from 88 to 264 pounds. Horn lengths have been measured up to 40 inches. Life spans run from 10 to 14 years.
The Capra ibex has an uncanny ability to negotiate the most dangerous rock cliffs and ledges with seemingly careless abandon giving it the appearance that it has magical abilities. The imagery of seeing these animals playing and hopping from rock to rock on a near vertical cliff, is an unbelievable sight and was likely just as amazing to Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon prehistoric humans, explaining their popularity in prehistoric art..