Underneath it was the skull of what was later named the Yukagir mammoth…
From 2003 onwards, several expeditions led within the Mammuthus program have encouraged scientists from around the world to track more parts of this remarkably well-preserved fossil.
From the Siberian steppes
to the Aichi Universal Exhibition in 2005
It took three excavation trips to gather and put the Yukagir fossil together. Although mammoth fossils are not a rarity around the world, few are as spectacular as this specimen from Northern Yakutia.
In Siberia’s frozen soil, hunters of mammoth tusks sometimes come across more than the expected precious ivory; they may also find a skeleton or remains with skin, fur, and soft tissues. At the very moment of its excavation, the Yukagir skull was only partially covered with fur, but its skin was intact. Palaeontologists could reach the ear, temporal gland, and most importantly the molars, which allow to determine the animal’s age.
The Yukagir mammoth, a 48 year-old adult male, still roamed the vast green steppes 18,560 years ago, carrying its weight of 4 to 5 tons in what is today the Siberian tundra. About twenty centuries after his death, scientists have decided to further their investigation on him by running tomographic analyses, which can be performed with the help of a very large scanner only found in Japan. The media have taken a passionate interest in the mammoth’s history, to the point that it was chosen as main attraction by the organizers of the Aichi Universal Exhibition, where more than 22 million visitors saw it. It has been transported back and forth between South Eastern Asia and Yakutsk since then, under the responsibility of the Academy of Sciences in the Sakha Republic.