"World's first mammoths' graveyard" found in eastern Serbia

KOSTOLAC -- Archaeologists in Kostolac, eastern Serbia, on Tuesday morning witnessed a stunning discovery at the Drmno coal strip mining field.

Archaeologists work at the Drmno site (Tanjug)
Archaeologists work at the Drmno site (Tanjug)

No less than five mammoth skeletons were discovered that day inside the stretch of about a hundred meters.

In all, seven skeletons have been found so far at the location, Belgrade daily Večernje Novosti is reporting.

Archaeologists working in the nearby Roman site Viminacium were fist alerted to one set of giant remains of a mammoth, that was damaged by the mining machinery. But then torrential rain fell on Monday, rinsing away the sand.

On Tuesday morning, no less than five other skeletons of the ancient extinct animals - ancestors of today's elephants - were clearly visible at the site.

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The first skeleton was found at Drmno in 2009. The bones belonged to a female mammoth that has been named Vika.

"Something of the kind has never been witnessed in archaeology. Within the space of only several hundred meters we found as many as seven mammoth skeletons,", Archaeological Project Viminacium chief Miomir Korać told reporters, adding that his team expected more to be unearthed.

Korać, who on Wednesday departed for France to consult on the discovery - and said he would be able to say "what and with whom" archaeologists will be doing next at Drmno only once he returned - also noted that the site was "a global sensation, and most likely the first mammoths' graveyard found anywhere in the world".

Meanwhile, the owner of the strip mine, Serbia's power corporation EPS, decided to halt all mining operations at the location in the wake of the discovery.

Miloš Milivojević, of the Natural Museum in Belgrade, says that the site is located in what used to be the delta of the prehistoric Morava River, on the banks of what used to be the Pannonian Sea.

"When in 2009 we found the fossil remains of Vika the mammoth, we determined that she drowned in the mud of the swamp. However, the fossils of the other mammoths are located on ground at least ten meters higher, and there are two possible explanations for this phenomenon. Either some sort of catastrophe struck, finding them all in the same place, or the first mammoths' graveyard has indeed been found," Milivojvić said.

This would show that mammoths, like their modern-day cousins elephants, embarked on long journeys in order to be able to end their lives in a particular spot.