Solounias identified the bone as the distal end of the femur of a woolly rhinoceros, or possibly a Chalicotherium, a large herbivore, and dated it to the Pleistocene era (2 million to 10,000 years ago).
According to Solounias, the rusty-black color of the fossil bone indicates that it was most likely collected from the lignite deposits near the ancient town of Megalopolis. Carried by the ancient Greeks to the sunny acropolis of Nichoria, and then unearthed two millennia later, the bone traveled extensively in the last decade.
From Greece, across the Mediterranean and Atlantic, it went to Minnesota, then east to Princeton, New Jersey and New York City to be identified by paleontologists. Then west again to Bozeman, Montana, where it was professionally stabilized by restorers at the Museum of the Rockies, to prevent further breakage.
"It was then transported overland to Palo Alto, Calif., where it rested on my desk, as I searched for a proper home in a leading museum," Mayor said.
This spring, the relic traveled back over the Atlantic, from California to its final home at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, where it will be displayed in the Greek and Roman Antiquities Gallery.