40,000-year-old mammoth bones discovered in wine cellar

The Stone Age fossils were discovered by a winemaker in Austria.

ByLeah Sarnoff ABCNews logo
Friday, May 24, 2024
40,000-year-old mammoth bones discovered in wine cellar
This discovery of ancient mammoth bones in Austria is being called an 'archaeological sensation.'

While renovating his wine cellar, a man in Austria made a discovery far older than a vintage bottle of Merlot. Instead, he discovered a rare collection of mammoth bones, believed to date back approximately 40,000 years.

Marking one of the most significant mammoth fossil finds in over a century in Austria, according to the Austrian Archeological Institute, researchers believe the prehistoric Stone Age bones belonged to at least three different mammoths.

Winemaker Andreas Pernerstorfer discovered the bones while renovating his cellar, located in the Austrian village of Gobelsburg, about 45 miles west of Vienna, according to a Tuesday press release from the institute.

Pernerstorfer reported the bones to the Federal Monuments Office, which referred him to the Austrian Archaeological Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Dubbed an "archaeological sensation," archaeologists say they have uncovered several layers of mammoth bones since beginning the excavation process in mid-May.

"Such a dense bone layer of mammoths is rare," Hannah Parow-Souchon, who is leading the excavation said in the press release. "It's the first time we've been able to investigate something like this in Austria using modern methods."

The discovery has furthered an ongoing query into how Stone Age people were able to hunt the now-extinct, giant creatures, which are members of the elephantid genus.

"We know that humans hunted mammoths, but we still know very little about how they did it," Parow-Souchon said in the press release.

Researchers question if the cellar was the location where the mammoths died and if they were chased and trapped there, according to the release.

The collection of fossils is currently being examined by researchers and will be sent to the Natural History Museum Vienna to undergo restoration.

In 2021, an international team of researchers discovered million-year-old molars from three mammoth specimens in northeast Siberia, which marked the oldest-dating skeletal fragments ever found.