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Archaeologists have unearthed the skeletons of five prehistoric elephants after finding a Neanderthal axe


Archaeologists have unearthed the skeletons of five prehistoric mammoths at a site “cave dwellers ate 215,000 years ago” after a Neanderthal ax was found in the Cotswolds field.

Experts discovered the remains of five of the animals – two adults, two boys and an infant – in a quarry near Swindon.

Excavation at the site began after two fossil hunters, Sally and Neville Hollingworth, discovered a Neanderthal hand-axe at the site.

Then experts from DigVentures went to find the remains belonging to a type of steppe mammoth, the ancestor of the woolly mammoth.

Other finds at the site included delicate beetle wings and fragile freshwater snail shells as well as Neanderthal stone tools.

The site will be shown at Attenborough And The Mammoth Graveyard on BBC1 on December 30.

The location will be shown at Attenborough And The Mammoth Graveyard (above) on BBC1 on December 30

Experts discovered the remains of five of the animals - two adults, two boys and an infant - in a quarry near Swindon.  Pictured: Save on a giant tusk

Experts discovered the remains of five of the animals – two adults, two boys and an infant – in a quarry near Swindon. Pictured: Save on a giant tusk

The illustration represents a reconstruction of the steppe mammoth that predated the woolly mammoth, based on the genetic knowledge we now have from the Adisha mammoth.

The illustration represents a reconstruction of the steppe mammoth that preceded the woolly mammoth, based on the genetic knowledge we now have from the Adichya mammoth.

Sir David Attenborough will join Professor Ben Garrod and archaeologists from DigVentures to find out why the mammoths were there and how they died.

The discovery of Neanderthal tools may mean the site was a “huge buffet,” according to experts.

Professor Jarrod from the University of East Anglia said: “This is gold dust. Perhaps Neanderthals were camping there, perhaps causing these animals to die, chasing them in the mud and enjoying a huge buffet.

“Maybe they found them already there and got a free meal,” he told The Telegraph.

“If the lab shows that the cut-off marks are man-made, our site will be one of the oldest scientifically excavated sites with Neanderthals slaughtering mammoths in Britain.”

The steppe mammoth lived from about 1.8 million years ago to about 200,000 years ago.

Lisa Westcott Wilkins, of DigVentures, said: “Finding mammoth bones is always exceptional, but finding bones so ancient and well preserved, in such close proximity to Neanderthal stone tools, is exceptional.

Words cannot express the thrill of seeing a giant tusk still on Earth, or the feeling of standing in the middle of a location that has the power to change how we view our closest human relatives and the era of the Ice Age megafauna they shared their world.

Excavation began at the site after two fossil hunters, Sally and Neville Hollingworth, discovered a Neanderthal hand-axe at the site.

Excavation at the site began after two fossil hunters, Sally and Neville Hollingworth, discovered a Neanderthal hand-axe at the site.

Experts from DigVentures then went to find the remains belonging to a type of steppe mammoth, one of the ancestors of the woolly mammoth.

Experts from DigVentures then went to find the remains belonging to a type of steppe mammoth, one of the ancestors of the woolly mammoth.

Other finds at the site included delicate beetle wings and fragile freshwater snail shells, as well as Neanderthal stone tools.

Other finds at the site included delicate beetle wings and fragile freshwater snail shells, as well as Neanderthal stone tools.

Sir David Attenborough will join Professor Ben Jarrod and archaeologists from DigVentures to find out why mammoths were there and how they died

Sir David Attenborough will join Professor Ben Jarrod and archaeologists from DigVentures to find out why mammoths were there and how they died

The discovery of Neanderthal tools may mean that the site was a

The discovery of Neanderthal tools may mean the site was a “huge buffet,” according to experts

Ms Hollingworth, from Swindon, told the BBC: ‘We had originally hoped to find marine fossils, and finding something very important instead was a real excitement.

Even better is to see it transformed into a large archaeological excavation

“We couldn’t be happier that something we discovered will be learned and enjoyed by so many people.”

Research is ongoing to understand why so many mammoths are found in one place, and whether Neanderthals hunted or burrowed.

The steppe mammoth lived from about 1.8 million years ago to about 200,000 years ago.  Pictured: Mammoth bones from the Hollingsworth and Digifentures collections combined

The steppe mammoth lived from about 1.8 million years ago to about 200,000 years ago. Pictured: Mammoth bones from the Hollingsworth and Digventures collections combined

Research is ongoing to understand why so many mammoths are found in one place, and whether Neanderthals hunted or burrowed.  Pictured: a giant tooth

Research is ongoing to understand why so many mammoths are found in one place, and whether Neanderthals hunted or burrowed. Pictured: a giant tooth

Duncan Wilson, CEO of Historic England, said: ‘This represents one of the most important Ice Age discoveries in Britain in recent years.

The findings are of immense value for understanding the human occupation of Britain, and the accurate environmental evidence recovered will also help us understand it in the context of past climate change.

DigVentures is a team of archaeologists who also organize archaeological excavations that are open for members of the public to join.

Can the woolly mammoth be brought back from extinction?

The woolly mammoth was about the size of an African elephant and roamed Eurasia for thousands of years before its extinction.

The fur meant that it was perfectly adapted to the cold environment during the last Ice Age.

Scientists believe that their extinction was the result of climate change and that humans hunted.

Woolly mammoth remains have been found on most continents except Australia and South America.

Because many of the mammoth carcasses are so well-preserved, the scientists were able to extract DNA from the animals.

One particularly good specimen was a female mammoth in her fifties, nicknamed Buttercup, which was a female mammoth that lived about 40,000 years ago.

Experiments in Russia involved searching for and studying whole cells in the well-preserved remains of ancient animals to see if they could be cloned after their extinction.

The research is highly contentious – one objection is that the mammoth’s habitat on Earth is no longer the same. Another is that microbes have changed dramatically over 10,000 years.



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