Million-year-old mammoth skeleton found

KOSTOLAC -- A skeleton of a mammoth believed to be one million years old was discovered near Kostolac in eastern Serbia.

The discovery was made at the Drmno surface coal mine, close to the Imperial Mausoleum of the Viminacium Archeological Park. The bones were found 27 meters deep, in a layer of yellow sand.

The Park's director, Miomir Korać, told B92 that it is believed the skeleton belongs to one of the oldest mammoth species found in Europe.

"We were actually very close to the spot when the machinery hit the mammoth remains and we reacted immediately," Korać 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 its 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," Korać continued.

"What I can say is that it was over four meters tall, and some five, six meters long, weighing over ten tons."

Unlike the mammoth found 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.

But Korać explained that about one to one and a half million years ago, mammoths from northern Africa migrated to southern Europe.

This archeologist 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 Korać.

The mammoth found near Kosotolac will be restored and exhibited at the Archeological Park in Viminacium – once a major Roman stronghold in the territory of today's Serbia.