A farmer in the US has discovered the remains of a woolly mammoth that died on his land between 12,000 and 15,000 years ago. University of Michigan palaeontologists have since recovered around 20% of the large mammal's bones, which includes the skull with its two tusks still intact, numerous vertebrae and ribs, the pelvis and both shoulder blades.
Farmer James Bristle was installing a drainage pipe in the field of his farm, located near Chelsea, Michigan, when he dug into a 3-foot-long bone. Bristle said: "We didn't know what it was, but we knew it was certainly a lot bigger than a cow bone."
Researchers say that the site contains "excellent evidence of human activity" and believe that people could have been responsible for the woolly mammoth's death, and subsequently hid it so that they could return for its meat. This theory is supported by the finding of three basketball-sized rocks located next to the remains, which could have been used to anchor it in a pond.
"We think that humans were here and may have butchered and stashed the meat so that they could come back later for it," said Daniel Fisher, director of the University of Michigan's Museum of Paleontology and a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
Fisher added that about 300 mastodons and 30 mammoths have been discovered in Michigan over the years. "We get one or two calls like this a year, but most of them are mastodons," he said. However, not many are as complete as this one.