Ice Age Mammoth, Rhino, and Wolf Remains Found on a Building Site

  • Scientists discovered a host of megafauna remains during the construction of a new town in southwest England.
  • They included the wooly mammoth, a wooly rhinoceros, a wolf, and hyena remains.
  • The rare findings are estimated to date back to the last Ice Age, around 30,000-60,000 years ago.

Scientists uncovered the remains of several extinct animals, including a wooly mammoth, wooly rhinoceros, and wolf in Devon, southwest England

Experts said that the findings, estimated to be from the last Ice Age around 30,000-60,000 years ago, are an “exceptional” discovery that sheds light on the megafauna that roamed early Britain.

The well-preserved samples included a tusk, molar tooth, and other bones of a wooly mammoth and the incomplete skull and lower jaw of a wooly rhinoceros, The Sherford Consortium said in a press release.

Researchers also found a virtually complete wolf skeleton and partial remains of animals including a hyena, horse, and red fox.

The bones of various small mammals such as bats and shrews were also found. 

Woolly mammoth tusk found in Devon, England.

Woolly mammoth tusk found in Devon, England.

The Sherford Consortium

Wolf skull found in Devon, Britain.

Wolf skull found in Devon, Britain.

The Sherford Consortium

The team made the discoveries during the construction of new town Sherford, a new 5,500-home community under development on the edge of Plymouth.

“This is a major discovery of national significance – a once in a lifetime experience for those involved,” Rob Bourn, managing director of Orion Heritage and lead archeologist on the project for the Sherford Consortium, said.

“Construction happening at Sherford is the sole reason these findings have been discovered and it is remarkable that they have laid undisturbed until now.”

Bourn said that it was a “rare and special occurrence” to find artifacts untouched for so long, as well to have so many complete or semi-complete individual animals.

Researchers said that studying the remains, particularly the herbivores and their food sources, will provide an insight into the plants that may have previously existed in the local environment.

It is currently unclear whether the animals found at Sherford coexisted around the same time or existed at different points over a more extended time period, researchers said.

One theory is that some of the creatures fell into a pit and were unable to escape, and carnivorous scavengers followed and were also trapped.

Another theory is that the animals died elsewhere, and the bones were washed into the area over time.  

The Sherford Consortium said it would preserve the area where the remains were found.

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