Mammoth family goes under hammer - but fails to sell
A complete family of prehistoric mammoth skeletons has failed to sell at auction.
The collection of four Ice Age forms went under the hammer for the first time in West Sussex, England, yesterday.
The highly anticipated lot included a one-year-old infant, only the second known complete baby mammoth skeleton in the world.
They were expected to fetch between £250,000 (€280,000) and £400,000 (€450,000) but the highest bid reached was £240,000 (€270,000).
Summers Place Auctions in Billingshurst said it had received a lot of interest from museums hoping to be the first in the world to show a family scene of the ancient, extinct species.
The auction house is keen for the skeletons to remain as a four and is continuing to invite offers from interested parties.
The infant, which is 155cm tall and 284cm in length, is joined by a slightly bigger young female, aged around eight or nine. Her skeleton is 195cm tall and 325cm.
They are accompanied by an adult male and female.
The male is 240cm tall and 400cm in length. The adult female is 200cm tall and 328cm in length.
It is unknown exactly how the family died but their remnants were found together during building works near Tomsk, Siberia, in 2002. Their relatively small frames indicate they lived in poor conditions and most probably died at the end of the Pleistocene period, around 12,000 to 16,000 years ago.
Errol Fuller, curator at Summers Place, described the mammoths as the most exciting lot in the auction.
He said: "They are really remarkable. They were found close together so we are assuming they are an actual family unit. We know they died very quickly, we don't know why but we think because of some natural disaster."