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Million-year-old mammoth skeleton discovered in Serbia

2009-06-04 11:56 BJT

BELGRADE, June 3 (Xinhua) -- A skeleton of a mammoth believed to be about 1 million years old has been discovered in an archaeological park in eastern Serbia, the park's director said on Wednesday.

Miomir Korac, director of Archaeological Park of Viminacium near Kostolac, told Tanjug news agency that the skeleton was discovered in a layer of yellow sand at a depth of 27 meters on Tuesday and it was one of the oldest and rather rare types of mammoth.

The skeleton is over four meters tall, five meters long and weighs 10 tons, Korac said, adding that the specimen is probably a descendant of the tropical, so-called "southern mammoths," which arrived in Europe from northern Africa over 1 million years ago.

He also said that it is rather unusual to find so well preserved mammoth skeleton in a river mound.

According to Serbia's B92 news network, the discovery was made at the Drmno surface coal mine, close to the Imperial Mausoleum of the Viminacium Archeological Park.

"We were actually very close to the spot when the machinery hit the mammoth remains and we reacted immediately," Korac recounted the moment when the skeleton was found. "We managed to stop them, and were lucky to now have almost the entire mammoth. The skull and tusks were somewhat damaged."

"What is very interesting is that the poor creature met his death and remained in a layer of some sort of gravel, which means that it is practically preserved, and not even tectonic movements have influenced it to move or dislocate. We found it the way it died," Korac said.

Unlike the mammoth found in 1996 near Kikinda in northern Serbia, whose remains are some half a million years old, this one is believed to have arrived in what is today eastern Serbia from northern Africa.

Korac explained that about 1 to 1.5 million years ago, mammoths from northern Africa migrated to southern Europe.

He said that the find is exceptionally important, consisting of almost the entire skeleton of a mammoth species belonging to the oldest ever found in Europe.

"Discoveries of these species of mammoth are very rare. That fact alone speaks about its value," said Korac.

The mammoth skeleton will be restored and exhibited at the Archeological Park in Viminacium -- once a major Roman stronghold on the Danube river.

Editor: Zhao Yanchen | Source: Xinhua