Miners in the Klondike gold fields of Canada’s far north have made a rare discovery, digging up the mummified remains of a near-complete baby woolly mammoth.
The baby mammoth’s remains were discovered during excavation through permafrost south of Dawson City in Canada’s Yukon territory, which borders the US state of Alaska, officials said on Friday.
Members of the indigenous Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation named the calf Nun cho ga, which means “big baby animal”.
Paleontologist Grant Zazula said the little tyke, which retained its skin and hair, “is one of the most incredible mummified ice age animals ever discovered in the world.”
The animal is believed to be female and would have died during the ice age, more than 30,000 years ago when woolly mammoths roamed this region alongside wild horses, cave lions and giant steppe bison.
The discovery marks the first near-complete and best-preserved mummified woolly mammoth found in North America.
A partial mammoth calf, named Effie, was found in 1948 at a gold mine in Alaska’s interior.
A 42,000-year-old mummified infant woolly mammoth, known as Lyuba, was also discovered in Siberia in 2007. Lyuba and Nun cho ga are roughly the same size, according to the Yukon government.
It noted that the Yukon has “a world-renowned fossil record of Ice Age animals, but mummified remains with skin and hair are rarely unearthed.”