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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 5:21 EDT

Russian Boy Finds 30,000-Year-Old Well-Preserved Mammoth Fossil

October 5, 2012
Recreation of woolly mammoths walking near Somme River--by Charles R. Knight. Credit: Wikipedia (public domain)

Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

It´s not everyday that a young boy makes the discovery of a lifetime. But for Yevgeny Salinder, an 11-year-old boy from Russia, the discovery of a 30,000 year-old fossil was the first find of this kind in the region in more than a hundred years.

After unearthing the remains of a nearly intact woolly mammoth, Salinder raced home to alert his parents, who then called authorities. Scientists who rushed to the scene, were shocked to find not just a skeleton, but a largely-intact specimen, complete with flesh, fur and layers of fat. Weighing in at 1,100 pounds, the scientists speculate that the creature was not much older (15) than the boy who discovered it, when it died.

The fossil, officially known as the Sopkarga Mammoth, named for the region it was discovered–Cape Sopochnaya Karga on the Taymyr Peninsula–was given the nickname Zhenya, after the boy´s own nickname.

After carefully extracting the remains using special steam generators to free the carcass from the snow and frozen soil, paleontologists are now beginning a full excavation of the site to probe the area for other remains.

Initial examinations of the remains revealed that the humps on the animal´s back are not bone, but actually fat, similar to those of camels. Previous theories have suggested the humps come as part of the bone structure of the beast.

“We can see that this animal was very well adapted to the northern environment, accumulating massive amounts of fat. This animal likely died during the summer period as we can´t see much of its undercoat, but it had already accumulated a sufficient amount of fat,” Aleksey Tikhonov of the Zoological Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences told Itar-Tass news agency.

While woolly mammoths have been found throughout Siberia since 1929, this is only the second best preserved mammoth ever discovered, researchers said.

Tikhonov said that the last time such a well-preserved mammoth was found in Russia was in 1901, also in the Krasnoyarsk region, but further south, reports Anthony Bond for the Daily Mail.

After further analysis by paleontologists at the Russian Academy of Sciences, the mammoth will be moved to the Taymyr Regional Museum, where it will become their main exhibit.


Source: Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online