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An almost complete and beautifully preserved fossil of the Southern Mammoth, Mammuthus meridionalis was discovered a couple of weeks ago by a team of archaeologists led by Miomir Korać from the Archaeological Institute Belgrade and the Director of the Archaeological park Viminacium in Eastern Serbia.

The fossil, pretty much articulated and all in one place, was discovered at a depth of 27 meters (about 88.5 feet) in sand, which indicates that this area did not experience a serious earthquake for at least a million years or more since the animal died. It was identified as a female. She was about 4.5 meters tall, about 6 meters long, and weighed about 10 tons.

Southern Mammoth is one of the oldest and one of the largest species of mammoths. It is thought to have migrated from Africa into Europe between 1 and 2 million years ago. It was hairy, but not nearly as much as the later Woolly Mammoth, and thus not as adapted for the cold climate of the Ice Ages.

It will probably take only a couple of months to clean up the fossil, analyze it and articulate the skeleton, as it is so well preserved in sand. It will be displayed near the site of discovery, i.e., it will not be shipped to a bigger museum elsewhere.

I will be visiting Belgrade next month for a few days and I am trying to figure out if I could go to Kostolac, see (and photograph) the fossil and interview the researchers. I will let you know how that turns out.

Comments

  1. #1 DeLene
    June 5, 2009

    That’s great that the specimen will stay local and not get exported to elsewhere!! (And… sorry, the editor in me has to point out… “Africa” not “Afrika” and common species names are not typically capitalized unless they contain a proper noun. I know, I know, I’m nit-picky.)

  2. #2 Coturnix
    June 5, 2009

    Ah, that’s what happens when one translates from one language to another and juggles two different sets of rules (k in Africa, capitalization)! Ah, well.

  3. #3 Anonymous
    June 5, 2009

    i love mammaths

  4. #4 John J. McKay
    June 10, 2009

    The English language news on this is pretty thin stuff. I hope you get a chance to talk to Korać or one of his team. Pictures will be nice, too.

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