It’s a good thing his grandfather told him about mammoth bones. Otherwise, the Lower Austrian winemaker Andreas Pernestorfer would probably have reacted differently when bones were found in his cellar. Fortunately, as the Austrian archaeological institute ÖAI reports, he did exactly the right thing. While excavating in his cellar, the winemaker came across mammoth bones that were 30,000 to 40,000 years old. Since he had already heard stories about such relics, he immediately alerted the Austrian Federal Monuments Office.

But he didn’t know how extensive his find was. The ÖAI writes: “The finding, which was initially estimated to be a few individual mammoth bones, turned out after a short excavation to be a massive layer of bones that came from the parts of at least three different animals.”

The researchers are now delighted that they can work with a large number of different remains and examine them using modern methods. Similar finds that were excavated more than 100 years ago have largely been lost to modern research. The fact that such a treasure has been discovered again is therefore nothing less than a sensation for the institute. “Such a dense layer of mammoth bones is rare,” says archaeologist Hannah Parow-Souchon, who is leading the excavation. “It is the first time that we have been able to examine something like this in Austria using modern means.”

A press release states that the researchers led by the archaeologist have already uncovered several layers of mammoth bones since mid-May. For example, the researchers would like to use the bones to investigate the question of how Stone Age people were able to hunt the animals in the first place. It is believed that the largest mammoths grew up to 4.5 meters high and could weigh up to 15 tons. The well-known woolly mammoth was around 3.7 meters high and is said to have weighed five to eight tons. An almost unimaginable challenge for the primitive weapons of the people of that time. “We know that humans hunted mammoths, but we still know little about how they did it,” said Parow-Souchon.

The archaeologists’ initial assumption is that the wine cellar discovery could have been a trap for the animals. Why else would the bones of three animals be in the same place?

As soon as the investigations are completed, the find will be handed over to the Natural History Museum Vienna, it is said. The restoration will then take place there.