6 Oct 2012

Mammoth remains discovered

7:55 am on 6 October 2012

A massive well-preserved woolly mammoth was found in the Taimyr Peninsula in northern Russia in late August.

The remains of the frozen prehistoric beast complete with fur, bones, flesh and layers of fat, was discovered by Yevgeny Salinder, 11, on the banks of the Yenisei River, not far from the Sopkarga polar station.

Thawing of ground in northern Russia that is usually almost permanently frozen, has led to recent discoveries of a number of mammoth remains.

St Petersburg Zoological Museum director Alexei Tikhonov said it was the best preserved adult mammoth discovered since 1901.

"He (the boy) sensed an unpleasant odour and saw something sticking out of the ground - it was the mammoth's heels," he said

Scientists spent five days digging out the remains, which weigh almost one tonne.

"Judging by its legs, it turned out to be quite a large mammoth, it was lying on its right side at the height of 5 metres above sea level. We had to start the excavation as soon as possible," said Tikhonov.

Tikhonov said the mammoth had died aged 15-16 around 30,000 years ago. The tusk, skin, an eye and an ear were clearly visible.

"Its one-metre penis is also intact so we can conclude that this was a male," Tikhonov said, adding it also had one 1.5-metre tusk.

"Its skeleton is virtually intact and its heart in the rib cage may be intact, too."

The find was transported to the northern city of Dudinka and will later be taken to St Petersburg and Moscow where scientists can study it.