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Polar bear grabs 50,000-year-old breakfast - a hairy leg of woolly mammoth found by scientists

By 0 and 0 and 0
16 August 2018


A picture shows the small beast still in its grave - in an inaccessible tidal area on the Arctic island. Picture: Evgeny Basov

The polar bear raided a camp site of scientists on Kotelny island where scientists had gathered a front leg of a unique ‘pygmy mammoth’ as well as the northern-most skull of a woolly rhinoceros ever found and other bones from extinct predators. 

Mammoth expert Dr Albert Protopopov said: 'At about 4 am our research fellow Semyon Yakovlev woke from some kind of noise. I looked out of the tent, and there was a polar bear.

Mammoth leg

The beast dropped the leg - perhaps the most significant mammoth trophy of the summer scientific season. Picture: Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Sakha

‘It grabbed the mammoth's leg with his teeth, and dragged it out of the permafrost (where scientists had stored their find). Semyon shouted, and we jumped up. 

‘We began to make noise, rattled utensils, shouted, shot several times from the flare gun. And finally the bear ran away.' 

The beast dropped the leg - perhaps the most significant mammoth trophy of the summer scientific season.

It is hoped analysis of the limb will prove the existence of a separate species of pygmy or mini-mammoths.

Albert Protopopov

Golden mammoth


'The full mammoth cannot be excavated in the summer, as it is in the tidal zone.’ Picture: Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Sakha

The team with Dr Protopopov had collected the front leg and shoulder blade of the small mammoth, found in a total area on the island - as reported earlier this week by The Siberian Times. 

The bulk of the well-preserved frozen beast, reportedly 22,000 to 50,000 years old, will be excavated from the seabed permafrost in May next year, it is expected. 

The leg and shoulder will be shipped along with other relics gathered on this summer’s expedition to Yakutsk via the Lena River. 

'The full mammoth cannot be excavated in the summer, as it is in the tidal zone,’ he said.

Albert Protopopov

Mammoth expert Dr Albert Protopopov speaking at the press-conference. Picture: YakutiaMedia

‘Now, when everything thawed, the remains are covered with a layer of mud. Excavations will be possible when it is frozen.’

The creature has been named ‘Golden Mammoth’ because of the colouring of its preserved hairs.

'When we took a clump of hair, washed it, we saw how it began to shine gold, a very beautiful sight. The members of our expedition are still impressed. 

‘It's not grey, as usual (with mammoths). 

‘It is the first time we have seen such a beauty.'

There were also collected the shoulder blade of mini-mammoth and the bones of large mammoths on Kotelny island. Pictures: KP, Ulus Media

Mammoth bones

Mammoth bones

Mammoth remains

Comments (2)

Global warming is thawing permafrost and revealing fossils of already extinct species... And at the same time there's this very sad process, the extinction of lots of other species. By climate change, by food scarcity (no food seems to be enough for humans, e.g. we're overfishing the oceans, clearing forests for palm oil, etc., leaving little food or space to wild animals), by unsustainable hunting, by littering the environment... And so many people seems oblivion to all this, like zombies with their smartphones, taking selfies...
Suzana, Sao Paulo/Brazil
24/08/2018 22:05
the bear did what's natural. The only beasts there are humans.
E, Amur region
20/08/2018 20:44

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