An archaeologist works to finish up the excavation of
remains from a preserved woolly mammoth skeleton, nicknamed
'Helmut', at a quarry site in Changis-sur-Marne, east of
Paris. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
French archaeologists have uncovered a rare,
near-complete skeleton of a mammoth in the countryside near
Paris, alongside tiny fragments of flint tools suggesting the
carcass may have been cut into by prehistoric hunters.
The archaeologists say that if that hypothesis is confirmed,
their find would be the clearest ever evidence of interaction
between mammoths and ancient cavemen in this part of Europe.
"Evidence this clear has never been found before, at least in
France," said Gregory Bayle, chief archaeologist at the site.
"We're working on the theory that Neanderthal men came across
the carcass and cut off bits of meat."
Archaeologists came across the giant bones by accident while
they were excavating ancient Roman remains in a quarry near
the town of Changis-sur-Marne, 30km east of Paris.
The mammoth, which the archaeologists have named "Helmut", is
thought to be between 100,000 and 200,000 years old and is
only the fourth near-complete specimen to be found in France.
The first was dug up near the southeastern city of Lyon in
Scientists believe Helmut, a woolly mammoth, may have become
stuck in mud or drowned.
Two tiny shards of flint found among the bones indicate that
cavemen cut into the body, but make it unlikely they actually
killed the creature. To come to that conclusion, the
archaeologists would have expected to find a whole flint
Mammoth remains are commonest in the frozen climates of
Siberia, where around 140 specimens have been found including
some of the world's best-preserved carcasses.
The prehistoric animal disappeared from Western Europe around
10,000 years ago, most likely due to climate change and