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Tuesday, 27 November, 2001, 10:50 GMT
Mammoths trek home
A giant mammoth skeleton, BBC
The bones have been stored at a museum in Wales
The bones of four mammoths found in a Shropshire quarry more than 16 years ago are being returned from Wales.

The discovery 15 years ago of three baby mammoths and one adult is considered one of the most significant mammoth finds ever in Western Europe.

The 12,700-year-old bones will go on display next year in a specially designed museum storeroom in Ludlow, which is part of a new 4.2m library and museum resource centre.

A Shropshire woman discovered the bones in September 1986 when she was exercising her dogs near a sand-and-gravel pit at Condover near Shrewsbury.

Fragile bones

She noticed some huge bones, which had been uncovered by a digger, sticking out of the mud.

Conservationist studying mammoth bone, BBC
A shoulder bone of one mammoth was broken
A team of volunteers started digging and uncovered more than 200 bones belonging to the adult mammoth - three baby mammoths were later discovered at the site.

Dr Adrian Lister of University College, London, was asked to help identify the different parts of the skeletons.

For more than a decade, the fragile bones have been kept in an environmentally controlled atmosphere at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff.

Replica mammoths

The Shropshire museum made a replica of the bones before sending them to Wales and a special travelling display toured the UK for two years.

The adult mammoth was 3.2-metres tall (12.5 feet) and analysis of the bones showed that it had suffered a heavy fall just before its death, as the animal's left shoulder bone was broken.

Hansen, the company that owns the quarry where the bones were found, has donated 130,000 from its environment fund to help build the storeroom for the mammoths.

Ian Wardle, of Hanson, said: "Some years ago, Hansen played a major role in the discovery and preservation of the mammoths, so it is wonderful to see them at last returning to Shropshire."

The new resource centre, which is being built with county council and heritage lottery funds, will also have 35,000 geological and 58,000 natural history specimens when it opens in the autumn of 2002.

See also:

02 Nov 01 | Sci/Tech
When mammoths roamed England
07 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Hunt for the mammoth is on
16 Nov 01 | TV and Radio
Beasts roar to ratings win
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