Mummified baby mammoth found in Canada

Geologists suspect the rare fossil is over 30,000 years old — and it has a name.

WASHINGTON – Frozen in time under permafrost was Nun cho ga, the nearly whole baby mammoth uncovered Tuesday by a Canadian miner.

The rare discovery marks the best-preserved mummified woolly mammoth in North America, as the Ice Age fossil still retains its hair and skin, according to the Yukon government press release.

Named by Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin Elders, the fossil was found in the Klondlike goldfields in the Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin Traditional Territory. Nun cho ga means “big baby animal” in the Hän language.

According to the press release, the female mammoth’s recovery was a joint effort by miners, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, the Yukon Government’s Department of Environment, the Yukon Geological Survey and the Yukon Palaeontology Program.

“There’s going to be one thing that stands out in a person’s entire life and I can guarantee you that’s my only thing,” Treadstone miner Brian McCaughan said in the press release.

The remains of Nun Cho Ga are about the same size as the 42,000-year-old baby woolly mammoth found in Siberia in 2007. Geologists from the Yukon Geological Survey and the University of Calgary believe the fossil is over 30,000 years old.

University of Calgary professor Dan Shugar said on Twitter that he had joined a team of geologists who were called in to help recover the remains before they thawed.

“We were able to examine the section of permafrost where the mammoth came from,” he wrote. “And as soon as we were done, the skies opened up to an absolute downpour of lightning, hail and mud that seemed to come up out of the ground.”

Shugar said the remains showed “incredible” preservation, with the hair, trunk and even toenails intact.

“As an Ice Age paleontologist, one of my lifelong dreams has been to come face-to-face with an actual woolly mammoth,” said Yukon paleontologist Dr. Grant Zazula in the press release. “Nun Cho Ga is beautiful and one of the most incredible mummified Ice Age animals ever discovered in the world. I look forward to getting to know her better.”

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