Skeletons of a family of four mammoths, including a well preserved one-year-old baby, that were discovered buried together in Russia may fetch up to 400,000 pounds at an auction in the UK.
The skeletons of the family, consisting of adult male and female mammoths, a younger female and a year-old baby, were all found together during building works near the Siberian city of Tomsk in 2002.
The adult female had a height of just over two metres and weighed about 2.8 tonnes.
She is believed to be about 45 years old, as indicated by tooth wear. The male mammoth is slightly taller than the female.
"The second female mammoth is definitely younger and judging by its size, characteristics of the bones and teeth, it can be reasonably assumed that she was about eight to nine years old," according to Summers Place Auctions in the UK.
The highlight of the group is the well-preserved skeleton of a one-year-old mammoth as it is only the second known almost complete baby mammoth skeleton in the world, the auction house said.
"The mammoth has always been a herd animal, so the discovery of this family is simply the perfect representation of this species," said Errol Fuller, Natural History curator at Summers Place Auctions.
"About 20,000 years ago the great herds that had roamed across vast areas of Europe, Asia and North America started to dwindle to localised bands of animals, which also started to reduce in physical size," Fuller said.
"So this family seems to be a prime example of the extinction of the mammoth through climate change and human intervention," Fuller added.
The auction will take place on November 21.
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