Elephant fossils in Abruzzo

From the first discoveries to systematic study

There are many places in the area stretching from Scoppito to north-west of L’Aquila, where the fossilised remains of large mammals from the Quaternary Period (from 2.58 million years ago to the present) have been found.

In the 1800s, remains were collected and preserved by scholars using a different method to the one we use now. Many finds were accidental: they occurred during agricultural work or quarrying operations, eg those related to the extraction of clay and lignite. Starting in the 1940s, first Father Saverio Maini, and later Father Gabriele Marini, began a systematic collection.

Over time, various pieces of skeletons were found: molars, tusks, femurs, ribs and, together with the elephant remains, those of other animals that lived in the same surroundings such as hippos, rhinoceroses and deer.

The skeleton exhibited here was unearthed at Madonna della Strada di Scoppito in 1954. The most recently discovered fossil-rich sites are Campo di Pile and Pagliare di Sassa.

Illustrazione tratta dal volume Il Mammut, a cura di Maria Adelaide Rossi, Carsa Edizioni, Pescara 2022