Subject: Baby Mammoth at the Natural History Museum in London
From: Alex Kemp
Date: Tuesday, 20 May 2014 11:44:50 +0100
To: Micaela Kemp, Liisa Kemp, Davin Kemp

Lyuba, the 42,000-year-old Baby Mammoth

This was discovered in Siberia (Russia) in 2007 on a river bank; it is reckoned to be 42,000 years old.

It is 130cm tall and weighs 50kg. The deer herder Yuri Khudi, who discovered her, named her ‘Lyuba’ (the same name as his wife! - it means ‘Love’ in Russian).

Lyuba is normally on display at the Yamal-Nenets Regional Museum-Exhibition Complex. From Friday 23 May until 7 September 2014 she will be on show at the Natural History Museum, London.

Lyuba was discovered by a reindeer herder

Mammoths are related to elephants, but became extinct about 5,000 years ago. Fossil remains of mammoths, dating from the last Ice Age, have been found throughout northern Europe & Asia, and especially in Siberia.

Much of the land in Siberia is in a state of ‘permafrost’:- it is permanently below freezing; only the very top surface defrosts in summer, and the lower parts never do. The mammoth fossils have been found embedded within the permafrost or, like Lyuba, after thawing out & being washed away from their resting place. Unlike more ancient fossils, which have their soft parts eroded away (or eaten) & the organic tissue of their bones replaced across time by stone, the Siberian mammoths still have their flesh, skin & organs in place. Indeed, that fact has led many people to suggest that their DNA could be used to do a “Jurrasic Park” & recreate Mammoths (far more likely with them than with dinosaurs). Lyuba is reckoned to be the most fully preserved mammoth ever found (only her tail got eaten).

After an autopsy, the most likely reason for Lyuba’s death appears to have been a juvenile mistake: her trunk was full of silt. It seems that she sucked up some water too close to a silty bank. That would then have clogged up her trunk and, unable to drink or eat properly, she died.

Alex Kemp