Saturday, November 26, 2022
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She’s wonderful and gorgeous: Yukon gold fields reveal frozen baby woolly mammoth

by Ricardo Walter

Woolly Mammoth : Nun cho ga, a whole baby mammoth, is first discovered in North America.

woolly mammoth
A well-preserved whole baby woolly mammoth was discovered at Treadstone Mine in the Yukon’s Eureka Creek, south of Dawson City, on Tuesday. (Government of Yukon)

A gold miner, a First Nation, an experienced paleontologist, and a territory all worked together to make a once-in-a-lifetime discovery.

To be honest with you, I’m not sure how to handle it all at the moment. “It’s incredible,” said Dr. Grant Zazula, a paleontologist for the Yukon government.

On June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day, a teenage miner was operating a front-end loader to remove muck from Eureka Creek in Yukon, south of Dawson City, when he struck something.

He came to a stop and dialed his supervisor, who came over immediately.

When Brian McCaughan of Treadstone Mining arrived, the work was immediately stopped.

Zazula received a picture of the find in less than 30 minutes.

Zazula says that the miner had found the “most important paleontological discovery in North America.”

It was a full-new born woolly mammoth, the second one ever discovered worldwide and the first one ever discovered in North America, according to Zazula.

“Her trunk is there.” Her tail is present. Her ears are really small. “She could use the small prehensile end of her trunk to grasp some grass,” Zazula replied.

She is stunning and flawless.

woolly mammoth
‘She’s perfect and she’s beautiful,’ said Yukon government paleontologist Dr. Grant Zazula of Nun cho ga. It’s the first whole baby woolly mammoth found in North America and according to Zazula, the second in the world. You can see her well-preserved trunk, ears and tail. (Government of Yukon)

In 1999, a paleontologist began researching the Yukon Ice Age.

“And seeing someone face to-face is something I’ve always yearned to do. That dream actually came true this past week. “

The discovery was equally significant and thrilling for the Trondk Hwchin, on whose land the young woolly mammoth was discovered.

The elderly, as well as a large portion of the employees and members, are all very excited, according to Debbie Nagano, director of legacy for the Trondk Hwchin administration.

She would have become disoriented in the storm.

In the Yukon, National Indigenous Peoples Day is a recognized holiday, so when Zazula received the email, he made an effort to get in touch with any Dawson City residents he could identify who could be of assistance.

Two geologists, one from the Yukon Geological Survey and the other from the University of Calgary, found the young woolly mammoth in the creek. They were also able to do a thorough geological description of the area and take samples from it.

The sky opened up, became black, lightning began to strike, and rain began to pour in within an hour of them arriving to perform the work, Zazula added.

Therefore, if she hadn’t been found at that moment, the storm would have carried her away.

woolly mammoth
A group of people gather at the site where Nun cho ga was discovered at the Treadstone Mine at Eureka Creek in the Klondike. (Klondike Placer Miner’s Association)

The baby woolly mammoth, known as Nun cho ga, is roughly 140 cm long, which is somewhat longer than the second baby woolly mammoth that was discovered in Siberia, Russia, in May 2007. Nun cho ga means “large baby animal” in the Trondk Hwchin’s Hän language.

Nun cho ga, in Zazula’s estimation, was between 30 and 35 days old when she passed away. Zazula estimates that she passed away between 35,000 and 40,000 years ago based on the geology of the area.

So she died during the last ice age and was discovered in permafrost, according to Zazula.

He said that a piece of the animal’s intestine with grass on it was visible to the geologists who found her.

Zazula explained, “So that tells us what she did in her final moments.”

He estimated that the mammoth was just a few steps away from her mother when she wandered off, ate some grass, drank some water, and became trapped in the mud.

And from becoming stuck in the mud to being buried, he added, “That thing occurred very, very quickly.”

Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in blessing

After being rescued from the mining site, Nun Cho Ga was taken to a nearby spot for a ceremony.

About 15 or 16 people, including Tr’ondk Hwch’in members, scientists, miners, and politicians, gathered in a circle and worshipped as Nun cho ga was unwrapped from the tarp. They were led by Tr’ondk Hwch’in elders.

Nagano said it was “extremely powerful” and that the elders had given the young woolly mammoth their blessing.

woolly mammoth
Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin citizens and representatives of the Yukon government, Treadstone Mine and University of Calgary pose with Nun cho ga.  (Yukon government)

Tr’ondk Hwch’in, ElderThe moment the tarp was taken off, Peggy Kormendy claimed it stole her breath away.

All of us need to respect it. We shall heal when that occurs, and it will be powerful. “She spoke.

According to McCaughan of Treadstone Mining, “There will be one thing that stands out in a person’s entire life, and I can guarantee you that this is the one thing.”

Michael Caldwell, a paleontologist at the University of Alberta who wasn’t there, said he was amazed that such moving stories have been kept alive over time.

It’s a kind of modern miracle that has been preserved, as well as a scientific treasure trove and a piece of great beauty. “All paleontologists will find this amazing, but those who work with such things will find it breathtaking,” he stated.

The discovery continues to amaze Zazula.

It will take days, weeks, and months for this to set in, and those days, weeks, and months will be spent working with Tr’ondk Hwch’in to decide what we do and what we can learn from this.

Source : CBC

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