Six-million-year-old elephant cemetery discovered in Florida

Paleontologists have discovered an elephant cemetery 5.5 million years ago in Florida, according to press reports from June 1.

The tomb is littered with bones belonging to gomphotheres, an extinct ancestor of the modern day elephant.

Paleontologists have uncovered the complete skeletons of at least one adult and seven young gomphotheres. The adult is 2.4 meters long, while the head and tusks are 2.7 meters long.

“Not only were the bones much larger than any other individual we’ve seen, but they were actually in place as if the animal had just laid down and died,” said Jonathan Bloch, Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology in Florida. Natural History Museum, according to

How were the remains found?

Excavation efforts began in 2022 after a volunteer located a particularly large gomphothere bone at the Gainesville site. The archaeological site has already been fruitful in previous excavations.

An elephant’s tusk was found near Kibbutz Revadim, southern Israel in August 2022.

“I began to chip away at the toe and ankle bones one by one,” Dean Warner, the volunteer who found the bone, said in a statement. As I continued digging, it turned out to be the ulna and radius [long arm bones] It has begun to unfold.”

“It was very exciting because this gave us an opportunity to not only see what the adults could do [gomphothere] “It would have looked like that,” said Bloch, “but also to document every bone in its structure very carefully.” “That’s exciting from a scientific perspective if you’re trying to understand the anatomy of these animals and something about their biology and evolution.”

While the bodies were close together, scientists believe they died hundreds of years apart. Researchers believe that an adult died from drowning at the site, while infants died at other sites and the bodies were carried away by water.

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