According to the scientists who have analysed the
find, a baby mammoth which was unearthed from the permafrost of
north-western Siberia could be the best preserved specimen of its
It was discovered on Russia's Yamal peninsula and
was thought to have died around 8000 BC. The animal's trunk and eyes
were still intact and some of its fur remained on the body.
Mammoths are an extinct member of the elephant family.
They first appeared in the Pliocene epoch, 4.8 million years ago. What
caused their widespread disappearance at the end of the most recent ice
age remains unclear; but climate change, overkill by human hunters, or
a combination of both could have been to blame.
One population of mammoths survived for longer in
isolation on Russia's remote Wrangel Island until about 3000 BC. Adults
often possessed long, curved tusks and a coat of long hair. This 130cm
tall Siberian specimen (four feet three inches), weighed fifty kilos
and was dated to the end of the most recent ice age, when the great
beasts were vanishing from the planet.
It was discovered by a reindeer herder in May 2007.
Yuri Khudi stumbled across the carcass near the River Yuribei, in
Russia's Yamal-Nenets autonomous district.
In the first week of July 2007, an international
delegation of experts convened in the town of Salekhard, near the
discovery site, to carry out a preliminary examination of the animal.
The mammoth bore no defects except that its tail had been bitten bit
off, according to Alexei Tikhonov, vice-director of the Zoological
Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and a member of the
Larry Agenbroad, director of the 'Mammoth Site of
Hot Springs' research centre in South Dakota, USA, noted that to
find a juvenile mammoth in any condition is extremely rare. He added
that he knew of only three other examples.