Mammoth, one of the most impressive mammals that ever walked on
Earth, a remote kin of a modern elephant, lived in the geological epoch of Pleistocene
during the period from 1.8 million to 10 000 years from today. The best known
representative of this species, whose remains were found in Europe, Africa,
Asia and North America, is a frozen, mummified young called Dina, dug in Siberia
The word mammoth came from Tatar language, through Russia, and
is connected to the word mamma meaning the earth. One of the itinerary writers
from the XVII century noted that people living in Siberia believe that mammoths
live under ground and that the least exposing them to the air is fatal for them.
That is why no one has ever seen them alive.
Experts have not yet solved the mystery of disappearance of these
huge mammals from planet Earth. Some are of the opinion that the reason lies
in the change of climate, as they disappeared with the last ice age, while the
others are of the opinion that they died as the victims of epidemic, or perhaps
that man exterminated them. Even besides there is proof that man’s ancestor,
homo erectus, used meat of mammoth for food even before 1,8 million years, this
theory of mammoth disappearance has been dropped.
Individual remains of mammoths are quite frequent, most usually
their molars, i.e. teeth, tusks, leg bones, while the finds of complete skeletons
are extremely rare.
Fossil remains of mammoth were discovered in Kikinda on 4 September
1996 in clay mines of AD "Toza Markovic" company at depth of 21 meters,
and are of the species Mammuthus Trogontherii which is determined according
to the teeth. This species is also called Steppe Elephant and is the ancestor
of Mammuthus Primigenius which, due to its characteristic long wool, is called
Discovered skeleton is almost complete, with more that 90% of
bone mass preserved. Missing parts are feet and blade-bones, probably driven
away by water or predators. It is a female which is evident because of the shape
of pelvis opening through which the baby mammoth passed during the birth. Age
of this individual mammoth is estimated to be 64 based on the circles in the
cross section of the tusks similar to those of a tree log. The experts noted
some degenerative changes in the bones indicating that this female suffered
from spondilosis and rheumatism. Kikinda mammoth was about 4,7 meters high,
about 7 meters long, with tusks of 3,5 meters long. The assumption is that overall
weight with skin and flesh was about 7 tons. It had short, brown-reddish hair,
similar to that of zebras of today.
The site where the skeleton was found is the original place where
it died (i.e. found in situ). The animal probably got stuck in the coastal part
of the swamp, and because of the age and sickness it could not get out and therefore
became an easy prey to the vultures. Bites of hyenas on the bones clearly show
Remains of other organisms were also found in the same site and
their existence is from the same time and territory as of mammoth. Among the
numerous finds the most interesting are water rats, pike, cat-fish, snails and
shells, as well as spores of ferns and fossil willow leaves.
Complete site, with the finds, has exceptional paleontology significance
as it is a proof of refuge places for huge number of plants and animals which,
due to the ice, migrated from the north towards the Balkans. Panonian Plane
was a “secret” corridor. It was the “zone of fighting” between the cold climate
of the Central Europe and mild climate of the Balkans. This was the true reason
why the specific conditions were available for development of flora and fauna.
Besides the exceptional significance which this find has for the
science, there are at least three other reasons to work on its protection and
presentation. So far it has been an inspiration to many artists, and we hope
that it will be so in the future, both for the children and professional artists
who will be inspired by this Pleistocene giant.
Next reason is that mammoth remains have an exceptional potential
for development of cultural tourism which can contribute to economic prosperity
of the town. As cultural tourism is impossible without synergy of culture, tourism,
economy, catering, trade, media, etc, its development would bring income growth
and eventually profit in many different sectors.
At last, but not least important, the significance of mammoth
remains found in Kikinda has a symbolic value which means that it can become
a brand of the town with a vision for Kikinda to become a vibrant place to live,
place that will exploit all heritage of the past and start off with mammoth
steps to the future as we want it to be.