A baby woolly mammoth found beneath gold fields is “one of the most incredible mummified ice age animals ever discovered in the world”.
The discovery, which has palaeontologists buzzing with excitement, was made by miners in the Klondike gold fields of Canada’s far north on June 21.
Nun cho ga, as named by the local Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation people, was found during excavation through permafrost south of Dawson City in Canada’s Yukon territory.
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Reports stated that a young miner struck the calf with his excavator before raising the alarm.
Nun cho ga, which means “big baby animal”, had palaeontologist Grant Zazula in fits of excitement.
He said in a statement on Saturday that the beast, which retained its skin and hair, “is beautiful and one of the most incredible mummified ice age animals ever discovered in the world”.
“I am excited to get to know her more,” he said.
The animal is believed to be female and would have died during the ice age, more than 30,000 years ago.
Zazula told reporters that the animal was probably about a month old when she died, most likely after getting stuck in the mud.
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The Yukon government noted that the area has “a world-renowned fossil record of Ice Age animals, but mummified remains with skin and hair are rarely unearthed”.
“It’s amazing,” said Tr’ondek Hwech’in elder Peggy Kormendy in a statement. “It took my breath away when they removed the tarp.”
Her people had a ceremony for the baby mammoth.
Chief Roberta Joseph of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nations said they would seek to move forward with the remains “in a way that honours our traditions, culture and laws”, adding that the Nun cho ga had “chosen to reveal herself to all of us”.