Mammoth calf in exceptional state of conservation found in Canada | International

The fossilized remains of a mammoth calf found in Yukon, Canada, on June 21, 2022.
The fossilized remains of a mammoth calf found in Yukon, Canada, on June 21, 2022.Dan Shugar/University of Calgary

The Yukon, scene of adventures and mysteries, returns to generate headlines. A woolly mammoth calf in an exceptional state of conservation was found last Tuesday in this Canadian territory. “It is one of the most incredible ice age mummified animals discovered in the world,” paleontologist Grant Zazula said in a government statement issued last Friday. The remains were found under permafrost in a gold mine south of Dawson City, on the Canadian border with Alaska.

It is the first such discovery in North America and the second in the world (a similar specimen was found in Siberia in 2007). She is a female of 140 centimeters in length. Experts believe that she was between 30 and 35 days old when she died. They also calculate that her body is over 30,000 years old in a state of preservation. Woolly mammoths became extinct about 4,000 years ago.

A mine worker who was carrying out excavation tasks found the remains of the animal. His supervisors contacted the authorities of the Yukon and those of Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin, the indigenous community where this gold exploitation is located, a short time later. A team of geologists and paleontologists traveled to take charge of the work.

In statements to CBCGrant Zazula said experts found a piece of the animal’s intestine covered in grass. “That tells us what he did in the last moments of his life,” he said. Zazula and the other researchers believe the mammoth was probably just steps away from his mother, but ventured out a bit to eat grass and drink water, and got stuck in the mud. “That event, from getting stuck in the mud to the burial, was very, very quick,” he added.

The mammoth has been given the name Nun cho ga, which means “big baby animal” in the local language. “We are all very excited, including the elderly and other members of our community,” said Debbie Nagano, Director of Heritage for this indigenous group. The calf was taken to a nearby place where a traditional ceremony was held with the participation of miners, politicians and scientists. The fate of these remains has not yet been decided.

The Yukon is known for being extremely fertile ground for finding ice age animals. In addition to woolly mammoths, researchers regularly discover remains of steppe bison and ancient specimens of squirrels, horses and wolves, among other species, dating between 10,000 and 100,000 years old.

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