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The newly discovered Yamal woolly mammoth was 3-metres-tall male, aged from 15 to 20 years

By Anna Liesowska, Svetlana Skarbo
03 August 2020

Part of the Pleistocene era giant stayed so well preserved that its spine was still connected by tendons and skin.

Ninety percent of the mammoth skeleton was gathered during two expeditions to the lake. Incredibly two of its feet and even the tail survived thousands of years in permafrost. Picture: Dmitrii Frolov

Works on excavating the first adult woolly mammoth found on the Yamal peninsula are now complete. 

The second scientific expedition is back to base in Salekhard after a trip to Lake Pechenelava-To. 

For five days scientists have been going through slit, clay and sand picking up parts of the mammoth skeleton. 

‘We thought that the task would be a lot easier, as based on the primary checks we assumed that the bones were preserved in the anatomical order. But the first and the second days of our expedition showed that it was true only about the back part of the skeleton.

'Rest of the bones were in such chaotic order that it was impossible to guess where they were. We just had to go through centners of slit’, said Andrey Gusev from the Centre of Arctic Research. 

'The way it stayed preserved is unique as the back part of the spine was still connected by the remains of tendons and skin’, Gusev said. 

The newly discovered Yamal woolly mammoth was 3-metres-tall male, aged from 15-to-20 years



The newly discovered Yamal woolly mammoth was 3-metres-tall male, aged from 15-to-20 years



The newly discovered Yamal woolly mammoth was 3-metres-tall male, aged from 15-to-20 years



The newly discovered Yamal woolly mammoth was 3-metres-tall male, aged from 15-to-20 years



The newly discovered Yamal woolly mammoth was 3-metres-tall male, aged from 15-to-20 years

For five days scientists have been going through slit, clay and sand picking up parts of the mammoth skeleton. Pictures: Dmitrii Frolov, Shemanovskogo Museum


The mammoth - the third ever found on the Yamal peninsula, and the first adult - will likely be named Tadibe in recognition of hard work of Nenets family of Konstantin, Yakov and Alexander Tadibe from the village of Seyakha who made the unique discovery. 

‘We are incredibly grateful to our friend Konstantin Tadibe not only for being quick in informing us about the find, but also for this enormous physical help he and his brother Yakov gave us during the field work. We would also like to thank their father Alexander for raising such children’, said Andrey Gusev.

Ninety percent of the mammoth skeleton was gathered during two expeditions to the lake. 

Incredibly two of its feet and even the tail survived thousands of years in permafrost. 

‘We have one front and one hind foot well-preserved, with tendons, soft tissues and pieces of skin. Also we have sacrum with adjacent vertebrae, including the tail preserved with tendons and a big piece of skin’, said Evgenia Khozyainova from Shemanovsky museum in Salekhard. 

The newly discovered Yamal woolly mammoth was 3-metres-tall male, aged from 15-to-20 years



The newly discovered Yamal woolly mammoth was 3-metres-tall male, aged from 15-to-20 years



The newly discovered Yamal woolly mammoth was 3-metres-tall male, aged from 15-to-20 years



The newly discovered Yamal woolly mammoth was 3-metres-tall male, aged from 15-to-20 years


The newly-discovered Yamal woolly mammoth was 3-metres-tall male, aged from 15-to-20 years. Pictures: Dmitrii Frolov, Shemanovskogo museum


Another sensational part of the find is that scientists found fossilised mammoth faeces, or coprolite. 

‘The coprolite was definitely left by this very mammoth, it is a very good find, as it can contain a lot of information about the mammoth’s diet as well as pollen of ancient plants, and a lot more.

'We plan to study it throughly’, said Dmitry Frolov, head of the Arctic Research Centre. 

The exact cause of the mammoth’s death is not clear yet as no  signs of injuries were found on the bones. No visible traces of human involvement were found either; unlikely there will be some as so far there was no suggesting that people lived on the Yamal peninsula more ten thousand years ago, or earlier. 

One theory suggested by Dr Pavel Kosintsev is that the mammoth could have fallen into a massive land crack.

Woolly mammoths found on the Yamal peninsula: Lyuba, the world's best preserved woolly mammoth calf, Masha, a calf found in 1988 and the new mammoth found in July 2020. Pictures: The Siberian Times, Shemanovskogo museum

The newly discovered Yamal woolly mammoth was 3-metres-tall male, aged from 15-to-20 years



The newly discovered Yamal woolly mammoth was 3-metres-tall male, aged from 15-to-20 years



The newly discovered Yamal woolly mammoth was 3-metres-tall male, aged from 15-to-20 years



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