There has never been a discovery like this in North America: in the Canadian Yukon, a perfectly preserved baby mammoth was found in the permafrost soil.

Spectacular archaeological finds in the icy permafrost are known from eastern Russia. But also in Canada and Alaska there are climatic conditions that make it possible for long-dead animals to be practically “shock-frozen” in the ground. However, such events are extremely rare. Now, however, there has been a find that has excited an entire region: an extraordinarily well-preserved baby mammoth has been discovered in the permafrost of the Canadian province of Yukon.

The finders were miners looking for gold in an area near the Klondike River – known from the Scrooge McDuck comics. Since the area belongs to the native tribe of Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin, the little mammoth girl was given a name in their language: Nun cho ga, which means “big animal child”. “We are all very excited, including the elders, many of my colleagues and tribe members,” Debbie Nagano, a spokeswoman for Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, told Canadian broadcaster CBC.

Mammoth baby had to be rescued quickly

Luckily, the miners did the right thing and called the paleontologist in charge, Dr. Grant Zazula, called. Once unearthed, every minute in the air was detrimental to the condition of the mummified animal, as the decomposition process began outside the earth. In addition, a severe storm blew up shortly after the find – the paleontologist who had rushed to the site and his team managed to secure the baby mammoth just in time. “The unbelievable thing is: Just an hour after we were there and did our work, the sky opened up, it went black, lightning flashed and the rain fell,” said Grant Zazula. “If we hadn’t recovered her directly, she would have been lost in the storm.”

But miraculously everything went well and the important find was secured. Everyone involved was touched by the sight of Nun cho ga. “She’s got a trunk. She’s got a tail. She’s got tiny ears,” Zazula enthuses. “She is perfect and beautiful!” Nun cho ga is only the second almost complete baby mammoth to be found anywhere in the world. The first was discovered in Siberia in 2007.

Sources: Yukon press release, CBC