Paleontology and archaeology can sometimes get a helping hand in unexpected places. A gold miner in Northern Canada was digging through the permafrost and stumbled across a mummified baby wooly mammoth.
Grant Zazula, paleontologist for the Canadian territory of the Yukon said the 35,000-year-old mammoth mummy was “one of the most incredible mummified ice age animals ever discovered in the world.”
“She has a trunk. She has a tail. She has tiny little ears. She has the little prehensile end of the trunk where she could use it to grab grass.”
It is being described as one of the most important paleontological finds in North America, with most of its skin and hair intact. She is estimated to have been a little over a month old when she died.
Since the wooly mammoth calf was discovered on the territory of the Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin First Nation, tribal elders named the calf Nun cho ga, meaning “big baby animal” in the Hän language. The chief of the tribe added that Nun cho ga had “chosen to reveal herself to all of us.”
The chief’s words proved prophetic as, according to Zazul “the amazing thing is, within an hour of [geologists arriving] to do the work, the sky opened up, it turned black, lightning started striking and rain started pouring in. So if she wasn’t recovered at that time, she would have been lost in the storm.”
The geologists who brought Nun cho ga back said that they found grass in her stomach, so some of her last moments alive were probably foraging.