Well-preserved baby mammoth found in Siberia

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Mammuthus primigenius (Baby) named "Dima", similar to Lyuba.
Image: Sikander.

Well-preserved remains of a baby mammoth have been found in the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia, Russia. The baby mammoth, named Lyuba, was a six-month-old female at the time of death, approximately 10,000 years ago.

Mammoths arose about five million years ago, in the Pliocene Epoch, and are closely related to modern elephants. Unlike elephants, mammoths had a thick layer of fur.

They died out about 4,000 years ago, although the population was in substantial decline well before then with more than half the population gone by 11,000 years ago. At present, scientists do not know what caused their extinction. However, major hypotheses include factors such as climate change, hunting by humans, disease, and combinations of these factors.

The specimen is well preserved with some remaining fur and substantially intact eyes and trunk. The only part which is missing is the tail which appears to have been bitten off. There is some hope that the mammoth may be sufficiently well preserved that DNA can be extracted for cloning or for other research.