French mammoth may have been Neanderthal lunch

CHANGIS-SUR-MARNE, France Thu Nov 8, 2012 11:01pm IST

A French archaeologist from the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) works to finish up the excavation of remains from a preserved woolly mammoth skeleton, nicknamed 'Helmut' by the excavation team and estimated to date from 125,000 to 200,000 years ago, at a quarry site in Changis-sur-Marne, East of Paris, November 8, 2012. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A French archaeologist from the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) works to finish up the excavation of remains from a preserved woolly mammoth skeleton, nicknamed 'Helmut' by the excavation team and estimated to date from 125,000 to 200,000 years ago, at a quarry site in Changis-sur-Marne, East of Paris, November 8, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Benoit Tessier

CHANGIS-SUR-MARNE, France (Reuters) - 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, 30 km (19 miles) 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 1859.

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 head.

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 hunting. (Additional reporting and writing by Vicky Buffery, editing by Paul Casciato)

Photo

After wave of QE, onus shifts to leaders to boost economy

DAVOS, Switzerland - Central banks have done their best to rescue the world economy by printing money and politicians must now act fast to enact structural reforms and pro-investment policies to boost growth, central bankers said on Saturday.

Movie Reviews

Reuters Showcase

Obama Arrives

Obama Arrives

Bear hug with Modi gets Obama's India trip off to warm start.  Full Article | Pictures 

Japanese Hostages

Japanese Hostages

Japan condemns apparent IS execution, demands hostage release.  Full Article 

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine Crisis

Pro-Russian rebels attack key port; Ukraine says at least 30 dead.  Full Article 

Australian Open

Australian Open

Nadal, Sharapova charge into quarters as top brass shine.  Full Article 

Row over Film

Row over Film

Group says 'American Sniper' film spurs threats against Muslims.  Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

Dolly ki Doli is a breezy watch, writes Shilpa Jamkhandikar.  Full Article | Related Story 

Akshay Kumar's Latest

Akshay Kumar's Latest

"Baby" is a smartly written, well-acted film  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage