Thirty-thousand years in the ground wreaks havoc (and oblivion) on most corpses. The best you can generally hope for is fossilization, as in the case of some lucky dinosaurs and other creatures of the prehistoric past. So, researchers had to pinch themselves after discovering a baby mammoth in Canada’s Yukon territory in such a remarkable state of preservation that it looked like it could get up and walk around.
Here’s what you need to know about this mindboggling find and how to get your own mammoth fix stateside.
An Incredible Story Unfolds
Discovered lying in the fetal position, a baby woolly mammoth (likely female) was found buried in mud by a group of gold miners in June 2022. Geologists were excited by the find and believe the furry little pachyderm died in the Ice Age’s permafrost. But perhaps the most enthusiastic response came from elders of the Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin. You see, the mammoth showed up on the tribe’s ancestral land, and they welcomed the find by naming her Nun cho ga. Translated from the Hän language, the term means “big baby animal.”
The mummified baby woolly mammoth was discovered in Yukon, Canada.
Experts say it is ‘the most complete find’ in North America. 🤯 pic.twitter.com/vybXQuNrxr
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) June 27, 2022
Nun cho ga follows in a fascinating tradition of frozen fossils found in the Yukon territory. This region of Canada contains a veritable treasure trove of evidence from the distant past. That said, Nun cho ga isn’t the first baby mammoth to show up in North America. In 1948, the partial remains of another one turned up.
But nothing beats the level of preservation of Canada’s newest find. It’s easy to imagine the diminutive critter roaming North America tens of thousands of years ago alongside cave lions, wild horses, and giant steppe bison. In fact, it must’ve been an incredible sight. (Where’s a time-traveling DeLorean when you need it?)
If You Melt It, They Will Come
The find of Nun cho ga has touched many within Canada’s First Nations as well as the scientific community. Grant Zazula is an Ice Age paleontologist working in North America. Naturally, he couldn’t suppress the incredible excitement associated with his first sight of the little one. He explained, “It has been one of my lifelong dreams to come face-to-face with a real woolly mammoth … Nun cho ga is beautiful and one of the most incredible mummified Ice Age animals ever discovered.”
A rise in global temperatures has made such finds possible as Russia’s frozen tundra has begun melting for the first time in many thousands of years, per The New York Times. In the process, unbelievable sights have emerged. They include woolly mammoths, woolly rhinos, dog-wolves, and other beasts, including vanished big cat species, according to Radio Free Europe. The melting permafrost has inspired scientists to flock to this Siberian “field of dreams” in search of more well-preserved biological wonders of the prehistoric past.
See Mammoths, Stay Warm
Fortunately, you don’t have to trek to Russia or Canada’s coldest regions to get your mammoth fix. Ripley’s Believe It or Not! recently acquired two pieces of mammoth skin and a preserved mammoth leg that you’ve got to see to believe. Believe It or Not!, one of the pieces of skin even includes a mammoth nipple!
Each mammoth fragment was uncovered in the Laptev Sea in Siberia between 2005 and 2010. Although the leg has not yet been dated, the two pieces of hide stretch back to between 43,400 and 49,000 years ago! Each of the specimens contains tissue and bone, making them incredibly rare finds well worth a visit to a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium!
By Engrid Barnett, contributor for Ripleys.com