close
close

Man discovers astonishing 40,000-year-old mammoth bones in his wine cellar

Andreas Pernerstorfer was doing a routine renovation of his wine cellar when he accidentally came across an unusual treasure: bones of ancient mammoths dating back to the Stone Age. Speaking about how he realized the significance of the find, Pernerstorfer told the BBC: ‘I thought it was just a piece of wood that my grandfather had left behind. But then I dug it out a bit and remembered my grandfather saying in the past that he found it. And then I immediately thought it was a mammoth.”

Representative image source: A mammoth family is on display at Summers Place Auctions on September 12, 2017 in Billingshurst, England.  (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
Representative image source: A mammoth family is on display at Summers Place Auctions on September 12, 2017 in Billingshurst, England. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)

The latest discovery took place in the small village of Gobelsburg, in northeastern Austria. As soon as Pernerstorfer saw these ancient fossils, he reported them to the Federal Monuments Office, according to CNN. However, he was asked to approach the Austrian Archaeological Institute ((OeAI) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖeAW) because they are “experts on the Stone Age,” said Parow-Souchon, a researcher at the academy.

Representative image source: British paleontologist Shirley Coryndon (1926 - 1976) and amateur geologist John Hesketh excavate the fossilized bones of a steppe mammoth (Mammuthus trogontherii), discovered by Hesketh in Aveley, Essex, UK, August 10, 1964. (Photo by Evening Standard/ Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Representative image source: British paleontologist Shirley Coryndon and amateur geologist John Hesketh excavate the fossilized bones of a steppe mammoth discovered in Aveley, Essex, UK. (Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

After being informed of the find, Parow-Souchon and her team reached the basement to conduct excavations and research. They discovered “at least 300 bones” densely packed in the 12-square-meter (129-square-foot) spot. The archaeologists also believe that these bones belong to three separate mammoths and they have uncovered almost all of their bones. “We think we have largely the complete animals. They are not in anatomical connection, but we probably have all the parts,” Souchon said. The rare discovery was labeled an ‘archaeological sensation’.

Representative image source: Pexels I Photo by Boris Hamer
Representative image source: Pexels I Photo by Boris Hamer

The initial excavation report found the bones to be as old as 30,000 to 40,000, making it the most important find in more than a century. According to the Austrian Archaeological Institute, a similar find took place 150 years ago in the neighboring district of Krems. At the time, archaeologists discovered a rich trove of remains, including bones, flint artifacts, decorative fossils and traces of charcoal.

Representative image source: Paleontologist digs up a fossilized mammoth skeleton from the Ice Age.  The skeleton is 50-70% complete with 6- to 6-foot-long tusks and is estimated to be 400,000 to 1.8 million years old.  (Ted Soqui/Corbis via Getty Images)
Representative image source: Paleontologist digs up a fossilized mammoth skeleton from the Ice Age. The skeleton is 50-70% complete with 6- to 6-foot-long tusks and is estimated to be 400,000 to 1.8 million years old. (Ted Soqui/Corbis via Getty Images)

The previous finding has been largely lost to modern technology, making this the first time modern methods were used to conduct the research. “It is the first time that we have been able to investigate something like this in Austria using modern methods,” says Parow-Souchon. The ÖeAW team left no stone unturned to properly excavate the site as they used 3D mapping technology to capture the location.

Representative image source: Pexels I Photo by Boris Hamer
Representative image source: Pexels I Photo by Boris Hamer

The research team hopes the discovery will reveal how the animals died. If they are right about the cause of death, it will shed light on how human hunters managed to hunt such large prey. However, scientists still debate how these mammoth bones found their way to this site, with one solid theory suggesting that the site could be where humans set a trap for them. The mystery surrounding them is yet to be discovered. Parow-Souchon described mammoths’ dense bone layer as “rare.” She added: “We know that people hunted mammoths, but we still know very little about how they did it.”

Researchers are currently investigating the site’s findings. The excavation team is expected to return to the site in August to continue digging. After the researchers have examined the bones, they will be transferred to the Natural History Museum Vienna.



Related Posts