A Mammoth in the Vegetable Patch

Everything Dinosaur has been informed about an article recently published in the “Siberian Times” reporting that a resident of the small and relatively remote village of Oy, in the Sakha Republic of north-eastern Russia, has found the fossilised remains of a Steppe Mammoth (M. trogontherii).  The local man was hoping to plant cabbage and potatoes in their vegetable patch but instead their digging uncovered the substantial tusks of a long-extinct member of the elephant family.

The newspaper reports that the tusks measure 2.7 metres in length and at their base they are around 50 centimetres in diameter.  Palaeontologists and a regional historian, Prokopiy Nagovitsyn, were called in to assess the villager’s fossil discovery.  Officials are quoted as estimating the tusks at around 400,000-years-old.

A Line Drawing of a Steppe Mammoth (Mammuthus trogontherii)

Steppe Mammoth illustration.

An illustration of a Steppe Mammoth (Mammuthus trogontherii).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Not Revealing the Exact Location of the Fossil Find

The historian (Prokopiy Nagovitsyn), explained that due to “understandable reasons”, the exact location of the fossil find was not being revealed.  If the location was known, this might attract unscrupulous ivory hunters who might attempt to steal the valuable tusks or they might be tempted to start their own excavations.

The vegetable patch discovery is described as “an extraordinary fossil find”.  Numerous Woolly Mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius), specimens are known from the Sakha Republic, the finding of the fossilised remains of a much more ancient Steppe Mammoth is a much rarer event.  Steppe Mammoths predate the Woolly Mammoth by hundreds of thousands of years.  Larger than M. primigenius, probably the largest of the Mammoth family, with adult males estimated to have weighed as much as fifteen tonnes, the Steppe Mammoth roamed Siberia from around 600,00 years ago to as recently as 370,000 years ago.

In 2015, an almost complete fossil skeleton of a Steppe Mammoth was discovered in the same region of Russia.  The Steppe Mammoth is believed to have evolved from the southern, ancestral Mammoth (Mammuthus meridionalis).

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