Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Mammoth's Tale

The woolly mammoth was a month old when she died. Photograph: Francis Latreille/National Geographic.

Lyuba was barely a month old when she fell into a muddy river and drowned some 40,000 years ago during the last ice age. The deep freeze that is Siberia has left her almost perfectly preserved.

Lyuba was named after the wife of the reindeer herder who discovered her in 2007 on the Yamal penisula in Siberia. She is missing only her hair and toenails making her the best preserved example of a woolly mammoth yet.

Woolly mammoths hit the world’s stage approximately 400,000 years ago and died out approximately 100,000 years ago. There are many theories as to what caused their demise ranging from climate change to a natural upswing in temperature that altered vegetation to early human hunters.

After her discovery, Lyuba was originally traded for two snowmobiles and a year’s supply of food; and, somehow ended up leaning against a wall being gnawed on by stray dogs.

Since her recovery by scientists, she has been scraped, drilled, sliced and had a CT scan.

Unfortunately for scientists, while her looks are very well preserved, her cells and DNA have been affected by 40,000 years of continued damage. With the lack of intact nuclei in the cells, cloning is impossible.

1 comment:

kathi said...

funny girl...