Mummified Mammoth Baby, Other Beasts Take London by Storm

Thursday, 22 May 2014 06:57 AM

By Michael Mullins

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A mummified baby mammoth that lived 42,000 years ago and is about the size of a big dog is the star attraction in a display of prehistoric beasts at London's Natural History Museum.

The exhibit includes the woolly mammoth, the spiral-tusked Columbian mammoth, the island-dwelling dwarf mammoth, the fearsome sabre-tooth cat, and the giant short-faced bear.

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The baby mammoth, which stands about 51 inches tall and weighs 110 pounds, was found in 2007 along the banks of Russia's Yuribei River in the nation's Yamal Peninsula in north-west Siberia. The discovery was made by reindeer herder Yuri Khudi and his son. Khudi proceeded to name the mini mummified mammoth after his wife, Lyuba, which is Russian for "love," The Guardian reported.

The juvenile female mammoth died at about one month of age. After finding mud throughout her trunk, scientists believe the young mammoth died from having sunk into a puddle of mud that quickly froze over and preserved her body in perfect condition over the millennia.

"To see a three-dimensional mammoth in the flesh is absolutely extraordinary," Adrian Lister, a paleontologist professor with London's Natural History Museum, told the BBC.

"To be eyeball to eyeball with a creature from the Ice Age which is so perfectly preserved and lifelike, looking like she is lying down and might walk away at any minute, is really moving. I have to pinch myself to think she died 42,000 years ago," Lister added. "It's wonderful to be able to share this with the public at the museum when she's never been outside of Russia and Asia before. It's really exciting and I'm sure others will be moved by seeing her."

Having first appeared some 4.8 million years ago, a combination of overhunting by humans and climate change led to the massive animal's extinction having last been roaming Siberia about 3,600 years ago, The Press Association reported.

"Almost certainly, the extinction of the mammoths was driven by natural climate change at the end of the ice age as the forests expanded," Lister added. "Hunting by prehistoric people may have contributed in the end."

According to the palaeontologist, as the earth continued to warm due to climate change areas that were once frozen over will begin to thaw and in the coming years give way to more discoveries like that of the baby mammoth named Lyuba.

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