A Rare Frozen Baby Mammoth Discovered by Gold Miners in Yukon
Miners made a ground-breaking discovery while excavating permafrost, a frozen layer permanently on or under the Earth’s surface. A mummified baby woolly mammoth that had been frozen was identified by the workers on June 21st, 2022 near Yukon’s Klondike region of northwestern Canada.
The rare Mammoth mummy was found in lands belonging to the Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin First Nation. Paleontologist estimate it to be aged over thirty-thousand years old, and most likely was frozen during the Ice Age. The baby has been verified to be most likely female, and has retained hair and skin despite dying thousand of years ago. This is an incredibly significant finding.
Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin Elders have named the mammoth Nun cho ga, which means “big baby animal” in the Hän language. She would have freely roamed the Yukon with wild horses, cave lions, and giant steppe bison.
Excitement over Nun Cho ga has been incredible. There hasn’t been many cases of preservation like this. The Canadian government released a press statement saying, “The discoveryy of Nun cho ga marks the first near complete and best-preserved mummified woolly mammoth that has been found in North America”.
In 2007, one of two other mummified baby woolly mammoth on record was found by Russians in Siberia. She was named Lyuba and recorded to have been over fourty-two thousand years old. In 1948, the partial remains of a young woolly mammoth named Effie was found by gold miners in Alaska.
Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin and the Yukon government are diligently working together to decide on the next steps of research. The priority is to maintain and preserve Nun cho ga while respecting the people’s culture, traditions, and laws. Early conclusions shows that the Mammoth was one-hundred and forty meters long. She was only around a month old when she died.
Paleontologist Grant Zazula , who has been studying the ice age for nearly twenty-five years told interviewers that “She has an incredible scientific discovery,” he said. “She has her hair, her skin and, if you look at her feet, she has tiny little fingernails and toenails that haven’t quite hardened yet.”
The involved paleontologist, elders, and scientist will share the information as it is found with the world. The Yukon has a world-renowned fossil record of ice age animals. The Klondike Placer Miners’ Association is proud of their partnership, contributions, and work towards the Yukon’s Paleontology Program’s goal in adding to the global scientific community.
“As an ice age paleontologist, it’s one of my life long dreams to come face with a real woolly mammoth,” Yukon paleontologist Dr. Grant Zazula said. “That dream came true today. Nun cho ga 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.”
BOOK PICK OF THE DAY
Klondike Women is a compelling collection of historical photographs and first-hand accounts of the adventures, challenges, and disappointments of women on the trails to the Klondike gold fields. In the midst of a depression near the turn of the twentieth century, these women dared to act on the American dream as they journeyed through the Northwest wilderness.
They explored and extended not only the physical frontiers of North America but also the social frontiers about the “women’s place.” Challenging the myth that the only women who participated in gold rushes were prostitutes and gold-diggers of the euphemistic sort, Melanie Mayer shows us that Klondike women came from all walks of life―socialites to poor immigrants, single women, wives, widows, and children.
They planned to make their money through many different undertakings including mining, business, entertainment, professional, and service enterprises. Their approaches to life were as varied as their roles―optimistic or skeptical; cautious or adventuresome; gregarious or self-contained; contemplative or active. There was no typical Klondike woman.
Their stories can be funny, hopeful, tragic, or poignant. Taken together, they give rich, complex images of the people, times, and places of the gold rush.
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Reference & Sources:
- BBC – Frozen Woolly Mammoth Found
- CBS – Mummified Mammoth Discovered
- Yukon CA – Press Release Statement
- Heritage Daily – Woolly Mammoth