Archaeologists have discovered a rare woolly mammoth field containing the remains of at least five of the giant animals.
The experts believe the huge animals, which are related to modern Elephants, lived in the region of Serbia tens of thousands of years ago. The discovery was made last week at the Kostolac coal mine, east of the country’s capital of Belgrade, and was the first of its kind in the region.
Miomir Korac from Serbia’s Archaeology Institute said the find could offer important insight about the Balkans during the ice age.
"There are millions of mammoth fragments in the world, but they are rarely so accessible for exploration," Korac said. "A mammoth field can offer incredible information and shed light on what life looked like in these areas during the ice age."
The remains were found during digging for coal in an open pit that sinks to around 20 metres below ground level. Korac said the mammoth field stretched over more than 20 acres of sandy terrain.
In 2009, a well-preserved skeleton of a much older mammoth was found at the same site. Vika, as the female skeleton was named, is up to one million years old and belonged to a furless breed called the southern mammoth.
Sanja Alaburic, a mammoth expert from Serbia’s Museum of Natural History, said the bones discovered last month belong to woolly mammoths, which disappeared around 10,000 years ago.
Alaburic said: “This discovery is interesting because, unusually, there are many bones in one place, probably brought there by torrential waters.”
Korac said Serbian archaeologists already have contacted colleagues in France and Germany for consultation. He said at least six months of work will be needed before all the bones are unearthed.
Another mammoth skeleton was discovered in northern Serbia in 1996. It belonged to a female mammoth that lived about 500,000 years ago and is now on display in the town of Kikinda, near the Hungarian border.
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