ANN ARBOR, MI – The nearly-perfect preserved remains of a baby mammoth are being studied at the University of Michigan.
‘Lyuba’ was a one-month old baby mammoth whose remains were discovered in the Russian Arctic in 2007. It appears she died quite suddenly, about 40,000 years ago. “She was doing great, very healthy,” says paleontologist Dan Fisher of the University of Michigan. “She just had this terrible misfortune.”
Scientists believe she either drowned or suffocated in mud next to a lake. The major significance of Lyuba’s existence, however, is that she is the best-preserved mammoth ever discovered. Many partly-intact mammoth corpses have been discovered in Sibera, but nothing as remarkable as Lyuba. Her skin and internal organs are intact, and the only damage found were bite marks from village dogs.
She is so well preserved that traces of mother’s milk have been found in her stomach, along with fecal residue. This was likely also her mother’s, fed to Lyuba to create a healthy microbial community in her gut, which is necessary for proper digestion. Such behavior has already been seen in modern herbivores.