Khroma, the oldest mammoth calf
Excavated in May 2009 by a team of palaeontologists under the supervision of Pr Lazarev, this specimen raised many questions about its true identity.
Small and sturdy… and too appealing to the polar foxes
Despite the measures taken by the hunter to protect his discovery, polar foxes managed to bite Khroma’s trunk as well as parts of its internal organs. When the scientists recovered it, its heart and lungs were missing.
An actual 30 days-old mammoth calf
Although it is impossible to date the exact period in which Khroma lived, palaeontologist Dan Fisher is affirmative: Khroma was only 30 days old at the time of its death.
But another mystery also held the Mammuthus team spellbound. The sexual organs of young mammoths are usually not developed enough in order to determine categorically the gender of a specimen such as Khroma. A heated debate ensued: male, or female? Its morphology indicated a male, but genetic studies have finally established Khroma as a female. Strange. Could the mammoth calf belong to another sub-species differing from the ones usually found in the permafrost of the Far North?
Lent by Russia to France for a series of tests, Khroma had to make a first stopover in Grenoble where a decontamination procedure led by Arc-Nucléart took place; the mammoth calf was suspected of being contaminated by anthrax. After being exposed to gamma rays, its improved sanitary condition then allowed for several sessions of CT scans in Clermont Ferrand and in Puy en Velay, with a team of specialists from General Electrics. The Mammuthus research team shared its discovery with visitors of the Crozatier Museum at the Puy en Vellay; Khroma soon became its main attraction and was exhibited there during a few months in a refrigerated case designed especially for her.
↓ Follow the tests run on Khroma with the Mammuthus team in the Universcience.tv report
Khroma’s remarkably well-preserved DNA
The mammoth calf still has surprises in store for us… Thanks to the exceptional state of preservation of its DNA, a team of French and Russian scientists led by Régis Debryune and Egor Prokhortchouk are planning the reconstruction of the mammoth genome.