It is an 'exceptional' discovery, in the words of the people in charge of the archaeological organization DigVentures. Thanks to the British company specialized in archaeological excavations, the remains of 5 mammoths from the Ice Age have been unearthed.
A real mammoth cemetery
It was the discovery of a Neanderthal axe by two archaeology enthusiasts, Sally and Neville Hollingworth, that drew attention to a quarry located near Swindon, in southwest England. Found during excavations conducted in 2017, these instruments, dating back to the Neanderthal era, of course did not fail to attract the interest of researchers. But they did not expect to get their hands on a real mammoth 'graveyard' 220,000 to 210,000 years old.
And yet, archaeologists have found the remains of five mammoths that died during the Ice Age. Indeed, among the bones, they were able to identify a newborn, two young mammoths and two adults. The bones also revealed that they belonged to a species of steppe mammoth, close to the woolly mammoth. Their small size in comparison to other mammoths, suggests to scientists that the species may have shrunk because of the cold. One of the researchers involved in the discovery said:
We think it was an adaptation to the changing environment, climate and availability of resources. It was colder at that time, resources were getting scarcer, and that caused the species to shrink.
Neanderthal stone tools
Co-founder of DigVentures, Lisa Westcott Wilkins, enthusiastically said:
Finding mammoth bones is always amazing, but finding ones this old and well-preserved near Neanderthal tools is exceptional.
In addition to the mammoth remains, the researchers also discovered new tools belonging to the Neanderthals: scrapers. These are small flint tools used to clean animal skins. It is not yet known whether the bones of the animals bear the mark of these tools.