This summer, Australia is lucky enough to host a 42,000-year-old baby woolly mammoth named Lyuba.
Lyuba, whose name means “love” in Russian is the first mostly intact Woolly Mammoth complete with flesh, organs, bones and milk tusks to travel down under.
Lyuba was discovered back in 2007 and has since been labeled as the most intact Woolly Mammoth ever discovered.
Australian Museum Director & CEO Kim McKay AO said Lyuba’s historic visit to Australia celebrated our endless fascination with these colossal creatures of the Ice Age.
“We’re honoured that she’s taken her first trip to the Southern Hemisphere to be the star attraction of our new interactive exhibition Mammoths: Giants of the Ice Age,” she said.
“The exhibition brings natural history to life and gets us closer to knowing what these animals were like. While Australia did have our own unique prehistoric megafauna, mammoths never lived on our continent – so this may be the only chance for curious locals to learn more about these amazing giants.”
Image:Lyuba Credit © International Mammoth Committee Francis Latreille
The new exhibit will allow Aussies to learn more about the ice age and the iconic mammals.
“As well as featuring the world’s most intact and preserved mammoth specimen, Lyuba, this exhibition transports visitors back to a time when these giant creatures walked the Earth,” he said.
Woolly mammoths roamed the Earth tens of thousands of years ago, leading lives similar – but colder - to modern-day elephants, of whom the Asian Elephant is the closest living descendant. The woolly mammoth was a commonly found animal during the last ice age if the fossil record is to be believed. Mammoth fossils have been discovered on every continent except Australia and South America.
Mammoths were similar in size to elephants but had adapted individual characteristics to live in the extreme cold weather of the ice age. Mammoths had narrower skulls, smaller ears, and shorter tails and perhaps the most obvious difference between them and elephants was that woolly mammoths were covered in a full coat of hair.
Image: Proportions Credit Illustration by Velizar Simeonovski © The Field Museum.jpg
Surviving in the cold, dry tundra of the ice age, woolly mammoths were well adapted to their environment, using their large tusks to brush away snow as they looked for food and secreting oil that covered their fur, insulating them further from the cold.
But then, 10,000 years or so ago their numbers began to dwindle before eventually becoming extinct 4,000 years ago.
AM palaeontologist Dr. Matthew McCurry said that frozen and preserved mammoths, such as Lyuba, give us a unique insight into what these species were like when they were alive.
“Their extinction represents one of the great mysteries of palaeontology,” he said. “Scientists still debate the two main causes for the disappearance of mammoths: whether from a warming climate that may have decreased their habitats; or whether overhunting by humans caused their demise.”
Lead Image: RIA-305579-Original Lyuba in Lab Credit Copyright RIA Novosti.jpg