News appeared in the press that in May 2007 a baby mammoth was found on the Yamal Peninsula, in the upper reaches of the Yuribei River, by Yuri Khudi, a nomadic reindeer tribesman. Studies of this unique find immediately started in Salekhard, in Shemanovsky Museum and Exhibition Complex. The first measurements and assessment of the state of remains were carried out by Pavel Kosintsev, a palaeontologist, head of the museum of the Institute of Ecology of Plants and Animals of the RAS Ural Branch, Cand. Sc. (Biol.). Later on, in early June, he was joined by Bernard Buig, a scientist from
France (executive director of the International Mammoth Committee, Geneva) and Yuri Burlakov (vice-president of the Russian Association of Polar Explorers, member of the Mammoth Committee of the RF), then by Alexei Tikhonov (academic secretary of the same committee, deputy director of the RAS Zoological Institute), Daniel Fischer (head of the Palaeontology Museum, professor of Michigan University, USA) and other specialists.
They established: it is a female mammoth, which died in the age of 3 - 6 months. According to tradition (in honor of the discoverer or his closest relatives) it was called Lyuba - the name of Yuri Khudi's wife.
The scientists confirmed the correctness of the selected regime of the baby's protection, worked out "a plan of complex measures to preserve, exhibit and popularize the find". In August-November 2007 a number of expeditions and laboratory studies to describe and collect samples were carried out on the spot.
Moreover, a series of radiocarbon, isotope and microelement analyses of tusks, as there are rings on their cuts, as on the trees, corresponding not only to years, but also to months, weeks and even days of life. As a result, it will be possible to determine what Lyuba fed on, when she passed a from the mother's milk to vegetable diet.
Morphological studies of her outward appearance, analogous studies and tomography of internal organs (three-dimensional X-raying) shall be implemented in Tokyo in September-November 2007. And then Lyuba will be sent to St. Petersburg for anatomic examination.
Very important are future works - histological, cytological, molecular-genetic and many others. The aforesaid as well as the preserved parts of paleoDNA, excreted from the bones, hair, soft tissues of the animal, will, probably, help understand more substantially the reasons of extinction of the mammoth fauna, changes of climate and landscapes in the planet's past*.
In a word, the find on the Yamal will give a stimulus for intriguing studies to scientists.
Ye. Ponizovkina, "The Baby Mammoth Is Called Lyuba", "Nauka Urala " newspaper, August 2007
Prepared by Vladimir GOLDMAN
* See: S. Zimov, "Mammoth Steppes and Future Climate", Science in Russia, No. 5, 2007. - Ed.
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