GUATEMALA CITY – A group of villagers from a small hamlet in the southeast of Guatemala apparently have discovered the fossil remains of a wooly mammoth while digging wells last week.
The villagers already have unearthed what appear to be teeth, a femur bone and several giant vertebra.
According to Manuel Colom, a paleontologist from the Ministry of Culture, the bones may belong to a mammoth that lived between 30,000 and 10,000 years ago, although he said officials would have to conduct carbon dating to know the exact age of the remains.
The bones were found in the village of San Rafaelito, in the department of Santa Rosa, some 50 kilometers to the southeast of Guatemala City.
The villagers claim they have stopped digging the wells, because other villagers reportedly were stealing some of the fossil remains.
The mammoths, predecessors of the modern-day elephant, emigrated from North America some 25,000 years ago, before becoming extinct some 10,000 years ago.
The newly discovered fossils are thought to be the third set of mammoth remains discovered in Guatemala.