Woolly mammoth and rhino remains dug up from under England highway during repairs

The woolly mammoth and rhino were a common part of the wildlife in UK during the Ice Age: Expert.

Remains of a 1,30,000-year-old woolly mammoth and a woolly rhino were dug up by a highway crew during expansion of a highway in England, BBC reported.

The workers have handed over the remains to experts in London for further study.

The discovery comes in a long line of other remains that were unearthed along the highway — prehistoric henges, Roman kilns, an ancient helmet and artefacts from settlements and Anglo-Saxon villages from the Ice Age, the report said.

The woolly mammoth and woolly rhino were once a common part of the wildlife in the UK during the Ice Age, Paleontologist Dean Lomax told BBC.

"However, recent discoveries like this are quite uncommon… it would be interesting to discover whether this is a one-off discovery or whether more individuals are preserved in the same area."

These remains require special care and conservation, Lomax added, explaining that woolly mammoth bones, in particular, can deteriorate quickly if left without proper treatment.

A highway road worker holding the fragile remains of a Woolly mammoth. Image courtesy: SNWS

A highway road worker holding the fragile remains of a Woolly mammoth. Image courtesy: SNWS

The road ahead is paved with uncertainty

Woolly mammoths were known to have roamed Britain 14,000 years ago, but have been suspected as extinct for the past 400 years owing to hunting and climate change.

Despite that, research is ongoing at Harvard to resurrect the mammoth — specifically, some part of the animal’s genes — to help conserve the Asian elephant species.

"Elephants that lived in the past — and possibly in the future — knocked down trees and allowed the cold air to hit the ground and keep the cold in the winter, and they helped the grass grow and reflect the sunlight in the summer," Dr George Church, a Harvard and MIT geneticist and head of the Harvard Woolly Mammoth Revival team, told Live Science.

"Those two [factors] combined could result in a huge cooling of the soil and a rich ecosystem."

Years ago, researchers took genes from the remains of a 100-year old Tasmanian tiger and fused them into mouse embryos to show that they could function — in a broad sense.

While these efforts are ongoing, it will still be decades of ethical debates before we see woolly mammoths roam among us, if at all.

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