Scientists were delighted with the remains of a mammoth accidentally found in a cave

(ORDO NEWS) — The remains of a woolly mammoth were found at a construction site in Devon (UK). Numerous bones of mammoth, bison, rhinoceros, wolf and Ice Age hyena have been unearthed during excavations on the outskirts of Plymouth.

In the southwest of England, in a cave system discovered by a digger during the construction of a new urban area, the remains of a woolly mammoth, rhinoceros, bison, wolf and hyena were found, writes The Guardian.

Experts said the find at Sherford, a complex of 5,500 houses on the outskirts of Plymouth, is of “exceptional” significance and provides an amazing glimpse into the megafauna that roamed what is now Devon between 30,000 and 60,000 years ago.

More than 200 clusters of bones have been carefully excavated from the cave and will be examined to try and paint a picture of what life was like in Ice Age Britain.

Among the samples taken from the place of discovery, in particular, partial remains of a woolly mammoth (including a tusk, molar and other bones) were found; partial remains of a woolly rhinoceros, including an incomplete skull and lower jaw; almost complete skeleton of a wolf; partial remains of a hyena, horse, reindeer, hare and red fox; bones of various small mammals such as bats and shrews. Additional small mammal bones are expected to be identified through post-excavation laboratory analysis.

It is not clear whether all the creatures found at Sherford coexisted at the same time or lived at different points for a much longer period of time. One theory is that some of the creatures fell into the pit and couldn’t get out and the carnivorous scavengers followed and suffered a similar fate – or the animals died elsewhere and the bones were thrown into the area over a period of time. time.

Understanding the range of mammals present, especially herbivores, will also provide insight into plants that may have existed at the time.

Professor Daniel Shreve of Queen’s University London Holloway was one of those who climbed into the cave to help supervise restoration work. “It’s really unusual to go into a cave and find the remains of things like woolly mammoth tusks,” she does not hide her admiration. “It’s pretty special.”

According to Professor Shreve, this is probably the most significant find of its kind since the discovery of Joint Mitnor Cave in Devon over 80 years ago.

Animal bones and environmental samples have been registered and recovered from underground and are undergoing academic analysis and conservation.

The developers have stated that the site where the remains were found will be mothballed and nothing will be built on top, and the entrance to the cave will be sealed off.

Orion Heritage Managing Director and lead archaeologist for the Sherford Consortium Rob Bourne said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime major discovery of national importance for those involved. Finding so many artifacts untouched for so long is rare and special.”

According to Bourne, the southwest of England was very different during the time of the mammoths. “It was an area where mammoths and other creatures thrived, roaming long distances across a landscape that looked very different from what it is today, with glaciers close to South Wales and a variable climate prone to huge floods.”

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, also says the find is exceptional: “The fact that we found partial remains of such a diversity of species here in Devon gives us a brilliant idea of ​​the animals that roamed Ice Age Britain thousands of years ago. , as well as a better understanding of the environment and climate of the time.”


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