Teenage mammoth might have been killed by an Ice Age man
MOSCOW — A teenage mammoth who once roamed the Siberian tundra in search of fodder and females might have been killed by an Ice Age man on a summer day tens of thousands of years ago, a Russian scientist said on Friday.
Professor Alexei Tikhonov of the Zoology Institute in St. Petersburg announced the finding of the mammoth, which was excavated from the Siberian permafrost in late September near the Sopochnaya Karga cape, 2,200 miles northeast of Moscow.
The 16-year-old mammoth has been named Jenya, after the 11-year-old Russian boy who found the animal's limbs sticking out of the frozen mud. The mammoth was 6 feet 6 inches tall and weighed 1,100 pounds.
“He was pretty small for his age,” Tikhonov told The Associated Press.
But what killed Jenya was not his size but a missing left tusk that made him unfit for fights with other mammoths or human hunters who were settling the Siberian marshes and swamps 20,000-30,000 years ago, Tikhonov said.
The splits on Jenya's remaining tusk show a “possible human touch,” he added.
The examination of Jenya's body has proved that the massive humps on mammoths seen on Ice Age cave paintings in Spain and France were not extended bones but huge chunks of fat that helped them regulate their body temperatures and survive the long, cold winters, Tikhonov said.
Jenya's hump was relatively big, which means that he died during a short Arctic summer, he said.
Up to 13 feet in height and 10 tons in weight, mammoths migrated across huge areas between Great Britain and North America and were driven to extinction by humans and the changing climate.
Wooly mammoths are thought to have died out about 10,000 years ago, although scientists think small groups of them lived longer in Alaska and on Russia's Wrangel Island off the Siberian coast.
Their bodies have mostly been found in the Siberian permafrost. Siberian cultural myths paint them as primordial creatures who moved underground and helped to create the Earth.
Most of the well-preserved mammoths are calves. Jenya's carcass is the best-preserved one since the 1901 discovery of a giant mammoth near the Beryozovka river in Russia's northeastern Yakutia region, Tikhonov said.
Unfortunately, its DNA has been damaged by low temperatures and is “hardly” suitable for possible cloning, he said.
Scientists have deciphered much of the genetic code of the woolly mammoth from balls of mammoth hair found frozen in the Siberian permafrost. Some believe it's possible to recreate the prehistoric animal if they find living cells in the permafrost.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Vatican priest accused of child sex abuse found dead
- Pakistan says U.S. cut trees illegally
- Polish official ‘convinced’ Nazi mystery train exists
- Suicide bomber kills wife, 2 kids in Pakistan police raid
- Al-Jazeera English journalists head to prison in Egypt
- Officer killed in Ukraine clash with nationalist protesters