Image: Government of Yukon/Reproduction
It could have been just another ordinary day at work. But in the middle of the day, a team of Canadian miners came across something beyond curious: the excavator was no longer hitting just boulders, but a 30,000-year-old woolly mammoth calf.
The ice age animal was found under the permafrost of the Klondike region of the Yukon. Geologists from the Yukon Geological Survey and the University of Calgary, both Canadian institutions, were called in to remove the fossil.
The area where the mammoth was found belongs to the Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation. Because of this, the researchers gave the cub the name Nun cho ga, which means “big baby animal” in the Han language, spoken by native peoples.
Scientists believe the little one is female. In the past, little Nun cho ga occupied the Canadian region alongside wild horses, bison and cave lions.
The animal was largely intact, being considered the most complete woolly mammoth ever found in North America. In 1948, researchers had unearthed only a partial mammoth in a gold mine deep in Alaska. It was also a puppy, named Effie.
The new specimen was compared to one found in 2007 in Russia. Beneath the Siberian ice, scientists have revealed another intact baby mammoth, named Lyuba. It was also a female cub, comparable in size to Nun cho ga. The Siberian animal, however, was older, dating back around 42,000 years.