Rare mummified baby woolly mammoth found in Canada

    Miners in the Klondike gold fields of Canada’s far north have made a rare discovery, digging up the mummified remains of a near-complete baby woolly mammoth.

    Members of the local Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation named the calf Nun cho ga, which means “big baby animal”.

    A well-preserved whole baby woolly mammoth was discovered at Treadstone Mine in the Yukon’s Eureka Creek, south of Dawson City, on Tuesday. (Government of Yukon)

    Palaeontologist Grant Zazula said in a statement on Saturday that the little tyke, 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.

    ‘She’s perfect and she’s beautiful,’ said Yukon government paleontologist Dr. Grant Zazula of Nun cho ga, the first whole baby woolly mammoth found in North America and second in the world. You can see her well-preserved trunk, ears and tail. (Government of Yukon)

    The baby mammoth’s remains were discovered on June 21 during excavation through permafrost south of Dawson City in Canada’s Yukon territory, which borders the US state of Alaska.

    The animal is believed to be female and would have died during the ice age, more than 30,000 years ago when woolly mammoths roamed the region alongside wild horses, cave lions and giant steppe bison.

    A group of people gather at the site where Nun cho ga was discovered at the Treadstone Mine at Eureka Creek in the Klondike. (Klondike Placer Miner’s Association)

    Zazula told the CBC broadcaster that Nun cho ga was probably about a month old when she died, most likely after getting stuck in the mud.

    The discovery marks the first near-complete and best-preserved mummified woolly mammoth found in North America.

    A partial mammoth calf named Effie was found in 1948 at a gold mine in Alaska’s interior.

    A 42,000-year-old mummified infant woolly mammoth, known as Lyuba, was also discovered in Siberia in 2007. Lyuba and Nun cho ga are roughly the same size, according to the Yukon government.

    It noted that Yukon has “a world-renowned fossil record of Ice Age animals, but mummified remains with skin and hair are rarely unearthed”.

    Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin citizens and representatives of the Yukon government, Treadstone Mine and University of Calgary pose with Nun cho ga.  (Yukon government)