Mummified woolly mammoth calf discovered by prospectors in Yukon

The Canadian Press

Published Friday, June 24, 2022 8:05 PM EDT

Last updated on Friday, June 24, 2022 8:05 PM EDT

DAWSON CITY, Yukon – A mummified baby woolly mammoth has been found in the Klondike goldfields, the Yukon government announced Friday.

It said the animal found earlier this week in the traditional territory of Trʼondek Hwechʼin is the most complete and best-preserved mammoth found in North America to date.

According to the territory, 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 found the mammoth suggest it died and was frozen during the Ice Age, more than 30,000 years ago.

Ice Age paleontologist Grant Zazula said it was his lifelong dream to “come face to face with a real woolly mammoth” and he is excited to learn more about the animal.

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

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

“She has an incredible scientific discovery,” he said. “She’s got her hair, her skin, and if you look at her feet, she’s got little fingernails and toenails that haven’t fully cured yet.”

The elders of Trʼondek Hwechʼin have named the mammoth calf Nun cho ga, meaning ‘big baby animal’.

“I’m excited about what this could mean scientifically, but I’m more excited about how this mammoth will help the Trʼondek Hwechʼin community,” Zazula said. “I’m just really honored and humbled to be a part of this.”

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