A baby woolly mammoth. Who could resist?
British Columbia will once again be the stomping grounds for woolly mammoths as the Royal BC Museum in Victoria prepares to open its new exhibition, Mammoths! Giants of the Ice Age, featuring the world’s most complete preserved mammoth, Lyuba, a 40,000 year-old baby woolly mammoth discovered in Siberia in 2007.
On loan from the Shemanovskiy Yamal-Nenets District Museum and Exhibition Complex in Siberia, Lyuba has been on display the world over since 2010 and will make her first appearance in Canada.
Evgeniya Khzyainov of the Shemanovskiy Museum explains the baby mammoth was likely one or two months old when it died by drowning.
“When she died she wasn’t damaged by other animals, she was frozen, and when she froze it was [lucky] she wasn’t damaged again by animals,” says Khzyainov.
The new exhibition comes just as the Royal BC Museum ushers in an update to its natural history gallery, including a new interactive display of the Ice Age in British Columbia. “Visitors can walk through the ancient landscapes where mammoths and mastodons lived and learn how today’s scientists excavate and learn more about these amazing animals, their eventual extinction and whether it’s possible to clone them today,” says the museum.
Mammoth and caribou remains have been found in southern B.C. and on Vancouver Island, and while no direct evidence exists of either species on Haida Gwaii, researchers from Simon Fraser University speculate they were once there. That is, at least, based on the amount of dung-eating fungi researchers found in the area, preserved in a layer of peat dating back to the end of the second last ice age. “There is so much dung at the Cape Ball site that we think it must have been a watering hole for large mammals and that they left behind a lot of poop,” says Rolf Mathewes, lead author of the study.
The woolly mammoth roamed across the northerly regions of North America, Asia and northern Europe between 400,000 and 10,000 years ago, with the last of them existing in small pockets as late as 4,000 years ago. Fully grown they stood up to 14 feet tall and weighed about six tonnes.
Their co-existence with humans during the last Ice Age between 110,000 and 12,000 years ago is well-documented, with early humans relying considerably on the woolly mammoth for food. Many prehistoric artifacts and cave drawings having been found that prominently represent the woolly mammoth.
Recently, a study of a frozen mammoth carcass found in Siberia has helped scientists conclude that humans lived in the Eurasian Arctic 10,000 years earlier than previously thought.
Researchers examining the bones of a mammoth discovered by the central Siberian Arctic found evidence of injuries to its ribs, tusk and mandible that were likely caused by sharp weapons used by human hunters. Through radiocarbon dating the bones, it was determined that the animal lived roughly 45,000 years ago, which puts the presence of humans in the central Siberian Arctic 10,000 years prior than previous estimates. This early reliance on the woolly mammoth likely enabled prehistoric humans to make their way across the Bering land bridge connecting Asia to the New World.