Mummified woolly mammoth calf discovered by gold diggers in the Yukon


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He said the animal found in Tr’ondek Hwech’in traditional territory earlier this week is the most complete and best-preserved mammoth found in North America to date.

The territory said miners working on Eureka Creek discovered the animal while excavating permafrost on Tuesday.

Geologists from the Yukon Geological Survey and the University of Calgary who recovered the mammoth suggest that it died and froze during the Ice Age more than 30,000 years ago.

Ice Age paleontologist Grant Zazula said his life’s dream was to « come face to face with a real woolly mammoth » and he was excited to learn more about the animal.

“The discovery of a mummified baby animal is something totally unprecedented. Mummified remains of Ice Age animals are incredibly rare around the world,” he said in an interview on Friday.

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Zazula, who has been studying the Ice Age for nearly 25 years, said the mammoth is about 140 centimeters long. Early examinations also suggest it was female and was around a month old when she died, he said.

« She has an incredible scientific discovery, » he said. « She has her hair, her skin and, if you look at her feet, she has tiny little fingernails and fingernails that are not quite hardened yet. »

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The Tr’ondek Hwech’in elders named the mammoth calf Nun cho ga, meaning “big baby animal”.

« I’m excited about what this can mean scientifically, but I’m more excited about how this mammoth will help the Tr’ondek Hwech’in community, » Zazula said. « I’m truly humbled and honored to be a part of this. »

— By Brieanna Charlebois in Vancouver.


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