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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 May 2006, 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK
Mammoth skeleton found in Siberia
By James Rodgers
BBC News, Moscow

Artist's impression of a mammoth (BBC)
It is rare to find mammoth remains in such good condition
Fishermen in Siberia have discovered the complete skeleton of a mammoth - a find which Russian experts have described as very rare.

The remains appeared when flood waters receded in Russia's Krasnoyarsk region.

The mammoth's backbone, skull, teeth and tusks all survived intact. It appears to have died aged about 50.

Mammoths lived in Africa, Europe, Asia and North America between about 1.6 million years ago and 10,000 years ago, during the Pleistocene epoch.

Alexander Kerzhayev, deputy director of the museum in the small town of Novoselovo, says it is the most significant find he can remember.

"It happens very rarely," he told the BBC. "I've been in the area 14 years and this is the first time. The bones are usually spread around over a wide area."

Despite the undoubted significance of this latest find, there is some bad news.

Mr Kerzhayev says his museum has neither the equipment nor the money to dig out the mammoth. At the moment, his best option may be to remove only parts of the skeleton.

Mr Kerzhayev admits it would be a pity just to leave the mammoth where it is, on the shore of a reservoir, but he says: "No one seems to care."

Siberia has historically been a rich source of prehistoric remains.

Some experts are now suggesting that climate change is leading to discoveries which might otherwise have remained hidden in frozen ground.

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