The frozen remains of a baby woolly mammoth were discovered recently by gold miners in Canada’s Yukon region. While digging through the region’s tough permafrost, excavators came across the almost perfectly preserved body of the prehistoric megafauna. The baby mammoth was dubbed Nun cho ga (“big baby animal”) by local tribal leaders. Nun cho ga is the first intact mammoth to be recovered in North America and only the second on record, the other being 2007’s discovery of Lyuba in Siberia. Its body measures 140 centimeters long, with a tiny trunk and not much of tail. More thorough tests on the mammoth have yet to be done but it’s known that the mammoth was about a month old when it died. The animal was being caught in mud and encased for 30,000 years until its discovery last month.
The sad death of this baby mammoth is a great scientific discovery for us in the present, shedding a light on the nature of this extinct species. For one thing, it will help us better understand the look of the species. It can be quite difficult to know the correct anatomy of an animal by fossils alone— just think about how long it took for us to conclude dinosaurs had feathers! An intact specimen like Nun cho ga is an incredible step forward for science and perhaps even more valuable than the gold the miners were looking for!
Discoveries of well-preserved mammoth remains also raise the possibility of one day cloning or otherwise reviving the woolly mammoth, but this still remains in the realm of science fiction for the time being.
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