An almost complete and beautifully preserved mammoth fossil was recently discovered in eastern Serbia.It’s believed to be one million years old and could be one of the oldest of its kind ever discovered in Europe. It was found some 27 metres underground buried in a deep layer of sand and is thought to be a rare type of mammoth: Zoran Markovic is the director of the geological department at Belgrade Natural Museum: “We think it’s a southern elephant, which lived in the southern part of Eurasia and central Europe. Other remains have been found before, but only pieces like the teeth or the tusks. It’s rare to find a whole skeleton, so it’s a very important discovery,” he says. The animal has been identified as female. She was about 4.5 metres tall, some six metres long, and weighed around 10 tons. Analysts belive the mammoth was protected by a layer of gravel after its death, which helped preserve it. The skeleton wasn’t even disturbed by tectonic movements and remained intact: Miomir Korac, director of the “Viminacium” archeological site, says: “Science progresses very fast, so we hope to find out what environment the mammoth lived and evolved in, what it ate and what disease made her ill. All of this, as well as the preservation of the skeleton are very rare, and very important for researchers.” The mammoth is believed to have travelled from north Africa to what is today’s eastern Serbia. It’s hoped it will only take a few months to clean up the fossil, analyse it and articulate it, after which it will be displayed near where it was found.