A FAMILY of four mammoths is to be sold at auction.

It will be the first time a group of the Ice Age giants are going under the hammer and are expected to sell for between £250,000 and £400,000.

The sale takes place at Summers Place Auctions in Billingshurst on November 21.

The family consists of a male and a female mammoth, a teenage daughter and a one-year-old baby.

They were all found together during building works near the Siberian city of Tomsk in 2002.

Summers Place natural history specialist Rupert van der Werff said: “I was really excited to see the mammoths as a group for the first time a few months ago, but it was quite a thrill when they arrived in 16 boxes in our gallery in Billingshurst.

“Building a skeleton comes with a lot of challenges. I imagine it to be a bit like doing a rather difficult 3-D puzzle.

“Having sold an individual mammoth in 2014 for £150,000, we hope this unique family group will find a new home in a museum, a company’s atrium or a private collection somewhere around the world.”

The adult female is of fairly slight built with a height of just over two metres and she would have only weighed about 2.8 tonnes.

The mother is believed to be about 45 years old, as indicated by tooth wear.

The male mammoth is taller than the female although not by much.

The second female mammoth is definitely younger and judging by its size, characteristics of the bones and teeth, she is believed to be between eight and nine years old.

Experts say the highlight of the group is the well-preserved skeleton of a one-year-old mammoth.

It is only the second known almost complete baby mammoth skeleton in the world.

The age could be determined as it was detected the third and fourth vertebrae were fused and the long leg bones were not yet fully developed.

It is believed the mammals died at as a result of a natural disaster between 12,000 and 16,000 years ago.

Summers Place natural history curator and author of several books on mammoths Errol Fuller said: “The mammoth has always been a herd animal so the discovery of this family is simply the perfect representation of this species.”

Summers Place Auctions’ Evolution sale will also include some other Ice Age skeletons which will resemble the famous cave scene paintings which show mammoths next to horses, bisons and cave bears.

For more details about the auction visit summersplaceauctions.com or call 01403 331331.