Miner's Surprise Find: 'She's Perfect and She's Beautiful'

Mummified baby woolly mammoth found in Canada is first such discovery in North America
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2022 6:01 AM CDT
Miner's Surprise Find: 'She's Perfect and She's Beautiful'
An image of the baby woolly mammoth.   (Yukon Government)

(Newser) – He might have hoped to strike a rich vein of gold in Canada's Yukon. Instead, a miner there discovered something that has paleontologists' jaws dropping: the mummified remains of a baby woolly mammoth. It's the first time a fully preserved specimen has been discovered in North America and only the second time in the world, reports the CBC. A worker digging through the muck with a front-loader uncovered the remains in the Klondike gold fields, according to a news release from the Yukon government and the indigenous Tr'ondek Hwech'in First Nation, on whose land the discovery was made.

"She has a trunk. She has a tail. She has tiny little ears. She has the little prehensile end of the trunk where she could use it to grab grass," says Yukon government paleontologist Dr. Grant Zazula. "She's perfect and she's beautiful." The young female died during the Ice Age about 30,000 years ago, per USA Today, and she was only about 30 days old at the time. She appeared healthy and had eaten grass shortly before her death. One theory is that the animal became hopelessly mired in mud while walking near her mother.

Elders from Tr'ondek Hwech'in named the animal Nun cho ga, which translates to “big baby animal," and they also performed a ceremony to honor the remains. "It’s amazing. It took my breath away when they removed the tarp," says elder Peggy Kormendy. A post at National Geographic notes that woolly mammoths roamed North America (as well as Europe and Asia) from about 300,000 years ago to 10,000 years ago. (Read more woolly mammoth stories.)

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