Ancient mammoth remains found in Switzerland

August 7, 2015
A well-preserved skeleton of a mammoth—a prehistoric creature that roamed the Earth for millions of years before dying out 5,000
A well-preserved skeleton of a mammoth—a prehistoric creature that roamed the Earth for millions of years before dying out 5,000 years ago

Mammoth remains that could be around 20,000 years old have been discovered at a building site in central Switzerland, a local official said Friday.

"It's a very exciting discovery, because the last find (in the canton of Zug) was 50 years ago," said Renata Huber of the canton's heritage and archaeological department.

During the construction of an office building in the town of Rotkreuz late last month, a heavy digger emerged from the ground lifting what appeared to be a large tusk, Huber said.

Local government specialists were immediately called in, and several other bones were later discovered, but not enough to reconstruct a full mammoth, she added.

"It's not clear if this is all one animal," Huber said, noting that the find was not as significant as those previously unearthed in Zurich, which enabled specialists to recreate an entire carcass.

Experts will now try to date the remains, and will stay at the construction site until they are satisfied that there are no further bones to be uncovered.

The discovery is unlikely to shed any new light on the type of prehistoric species that once lived on what is now Swiss land, but Huber said the significance of the find should not be understated.

"For an archaeologist, this is a once in a lifetime thing."

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