Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt
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The Pfännerhall Mammoth

The Pfännerhall Mammoth reconstructed and mounted in the State Museum
The Pfännerhall Mammoth reconstructed and mounted in the State Museum (© LDA Sachsen-Anhalt, Photo: Juraj Lipták).

There is probably no animal that better evokes the ice age than the woolly mammoth - Mammuthus primigenius. In the history of research, too, it has long been associated with the occurrence of glacial periods.

In the 19th century the zoology professor A. Nehring had already made valuable advances in the study of glacial fauna. In his investigations in Westeregeln in the 1870s he came across remains of steppe rodents like lemmings, ground squirrels and marmots in the gypsum quarries there - and bones of the mammoth, the largest herbivore in the ecosystem. Today we know that the mammoth by no means preferred extreme cold. It was always also present in temperate climatic conditions. Nonetheless, it counts as a very good indicator of the cold phases during the ice age. The Pfännerhall mammoth is a very early specimen in the history of this animal lineage. It comes from the Körbisdorf terrace, in the topmost section of the Unstrut gravel, and is to be dated to the expansive phase of the Saalian glaciation of around 200,000 years ago. It was found in 1953 in the brown coal stripmine at Braunsbedra in the Geisel Valley.