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A Finding in Yamal: Lyuba the Baby Mammoth

In May 2007, the Nenets reindeer herder and hunter Yuri Khudifound aperfectly preserved mummy of a baby woolly mammoth on the bank of the Yuribey Riveron Yamal. The mummy became a real sensation and a gift for paleontologists. Researchers from Russia, the United States, Japan, France, and the Netherlandsspent the next three years meticulously studying the finding and trying to unlock its secrets, which gave a more comprehensive idea of the way the animal lived, the habitat of the woolly mammoths and the reasons of their extinction.

This 1-month-old female mammoth calf that diedabout 42 000 years ago was named Lyubaafter Khudi’swife. The mammoth weighed about 30 kg after preservation, was 90 cm high and 130 long from trunk to tail. Scientists believe that Baby Lyubafellinto a mud hole or swamp and choked to death on benthic sediments. At such a small age the animal was still fed on mother’s milk. Researchers learned that mammoth calves, like modern elephants, used to eat mother’s droppings to develop a bacterial environment in their digestive system. The studies confirm that soon after birth (and possibly in utero) baby mammoths had a well-developed hump on the neck for storing brown fatto regulate body temperature. At the time when baby mammoth Lyuba and her mother were strolling along Yamal, the place was covered with the forests and the steppes with mostly cereal plants growing in the area, while the forest zone was shifted farther to the north than it is nowadays. Scientists discovered vivianiteinsidethe animal and on itsskin, which confirms rather extreme conditions of its death and primary burial in the swamp.

In 2009, National Geographic Channel produced a documentary Waking a Baby Mammoth telling a story of this phenomenal finding and its subsequent scientific investigations. The film says that Baby Lyuba has made it into history, and now she will travel the world as the most charismatic tundra messenger of the past. It is certainly justified, for this unique exhibit, after all round research and conservation in the Zoological Institute (St. Petersburg), has started a new page of its history by taking part in numerous exhibitions worldwide.

The fact that first it was displayed in the USA is rather symbolic. Researchers have discovered that the specimenbelonged to the branch of mammoths that had once migrated to North America and then returned back to their Siberian homeland. Nowadays, Baby Lyubais a successful international tourist, and has become the most travelling exhibit of our museum. So far, the mammoth mummy has covered over 100,000 km. Here is a list of Baby Lyuba’s national and international trips:

2008–the Mar Building Cultural and Business Center (Tokyo, Japan)

2010–the Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago, USA)

2012 –the Museum of Science, the International Finance Center (Hong Kong)

2013 –the State Darwin Museum (Moscow, Russia)

2014 – the Natural History Museum (London, UK)

2014 –the Museum of the World Ocean (Kaliningrad, Russia)

2015 –the Museum Resource Center (Noyabrsk, Russia)

2015 –the Museum of Nature and Man (Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia)

2016 –the KrasnodarState Historicaland Archaeological Museum-Reserve (Krasnodar, Russia)

2016 –the Royal British Columbia Museum (Victoria, Canada)

2017 –the MuseumofArt Developmentof the Arctic(Arkhangelsk, Russia).

2017 –the Australian Museum (Sydney, Australia)

Any public appearance of Lyubathe BabyMammoth is accompanied with the stories about the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the city of Salekhard, the Shemanovsky Museum and Exhibition Complex, and the finder of the mammoth Yuri Khudi. Within 10 years since the day of her discovery, Baby Lyubahas become a true representative of our museum, our region and whole Russiaon the international stage.