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    Centuries-old monkey skeleton found in East Flanders province

    The monkey had a broken paw, and its tail was partially amputated. Credit: RAAP Archaeologists

    Archaeologists have found the skeleton of a monkey in the municipality of Sint-Lievens-Houtem in the East-Flanders province.

    The skeleton was found during the reconstruction of the market square in Sint-Lievens-Houtem. Before the works started, archaeologists from the inter-municipal organisation SOLVA (Streekoverleg Land van Aalst) first carried out an examination of the soil.

    It is the first time that a monkey skeleton has been found during archaeological excavations in Flanders, according to the province of East Flanders, reports De Standaard.

    X-rays and research in the reference collection of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences showed that the bones are of a female rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta), a species that lives in the Far East, in countries such as India and China, reports VRT NWS.

    Radio-carbon research by the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage confirmed that the monkey lived between 1660 and 1810. Other research, conducted by the KU Leuven university, revealed that the animal was fed both meat and vegetables.

    The monkey had a broken paw, and its tail was partially amputated. The archaeologists suspect that the monkey belonged to wandering peddlers, and ended up at the fair of Sint-Lievens-Houtem via them.

    The skeleton is a unique find, and will be shown starting from 10 November in the new exhibition ‘Landschap door.grond’ in the Archeocentrum in the village of Velzeke.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times