Wild and Woolly: A Mammoth Discovery
· A rare baby woolly mammoth has been found frozen in the ice of northern Siberia, a vast region in Russia.
Although the 6-month-old female mammoth died thousands of years ago, her body is remarkably well-preserved. The animal's eyes and trunk are intact, and the body still has some fur.
The young mammoth, named Lyuba after the wife of the reindeer herder who found her in May, is about the size of a large dog. She weighs 110 pounds.
"To find a juvenile mammoth in any condition is extremely rare," said Larry Agenbroad, director of the Mammoth Site in South Dakota. To find one like this, with its organs preserved and protected from modern germs, is unheard of, said Alexei Tikhonov of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Tikhonov said the animal could have been lying frozen for up to 40,000 years.
The discovery could help scientists map the genetic makeup of a species that has been extinct for thousands of years.
Mammoths, members of the elephant family, first appeared about 5 million years ago. What caused their disappearance is unclear; climate change, disease and overhunting by humans are possible reasons.