You know what's rare? Woolly mammoth skeletons. You know what's even rarer? Beautifully preserved, near-complete, French woolly mammoth skeletons. Archaeologists just dug up the latter.

Dubbed "Helmut" by the archaeologists who discovered it, the specimen was encountered accidentally during an unrelated excavation at the Changis-sur-Marne riverbank, about 30 miles northeast of Paris. According to the Associated Press, it's only the third mammoth to be discovered in France in the last 150 years.


The discovery of small stone flints near the mammoth's skull make this an especially meaningful discovery. This specimen dates back between 200,000 and 500,000 years; a flint, explains zooarchaeologist Stéphane Péan in an interview with French magazine L'Express, suggests the simultaneous presence of neanderthals.

The question now is whether these hominids were actively hunting the mammoth, or merely scavenging its remains. Either way, Grégory Bayle, who led the excavation, is thrilled by his team's find: "some archaeologists have spent their lives dreaming of such a discovery without this chance!"


Check out more video and pictures of the excavation below. Video via BBC; all images via AP.

Read more about the discovery at L'Express.