Ice Age baby mammoth on display in Chicago, first time ever in U.S.

By | March 9, 2010

Some 42,000 years after scientists say she fell into mud near a river and suffocated to death, an intact baby woolly mammoth from the Ice Age is to go on display for the first time in the United States at The Field Museum.

Scientists say the mammoth calf named Lyuba is the best preserved and most complete mammoth specimen known. She was found in 2007 by a reindeer herder in northern Siberia’s remote Yamal-Nenets autonomous region and named for his wife.

“Her preservation, her really lifelike qualities allow you to form a better impression of what the past was really like,” said Dan Fisher, a University of Michigan paleontologist and the museum’s exhibit curator. “It becomes more immediate. It’s real.”

In the exhibit that opened Friday, visitors can see the folds and creases in Lyuba’s (pronounced Lee-OO-bah) skin, the bottom of her foot and small patches of hair on her ear and leg. At 45 inches long, Lyuba weighs about 92 pounds and if fully grown could have measured 8 feet tall at her shoulder and weighed between 3 and 4 tons, Fisher said.

Lyuba has been a boon for scientists, who have done MRIs, CT scans and DNA testing among other analysis on the baby mammoth.

“The things you can learn from a fleshy specimen like this that you can’t learn from studying a skeleton,” said Tom Skwerski, The Field Museum’s project manager for the exhibit. “It’s as if all of a sudden you’ve been given this great gift to be able to reaffirm a lot of your theories.”

Scientists have analyzed Lyuba’s stomach contents, finding her mother’s milk. They say she was 1 month old when she died and was in excellent condition.

Scientists first analyzed Lyuba’s baby tusks and chewing teeth, looking for details about diet, environment and health.

“The important thing about Lyuba, though, is that in a sense she gave us the answers to many of the questions we would ask through those analyses,” Fisher said. “Because there’s her whole body preserved in its entirety.”

Experts say the baby mammoth remained well-preserved because she was frozen in permafrost for thousands of years. Fisher also said her body was colonized by naturally occurring bacteria that produced lactic acid, which kept her body “pickled.”

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3 thoughts on “Ice Age baby mammoth on display in Chicago, first time ever in U.S.

  1. ally

    2Peter 3:8. in part… that one day with God is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.. If you’ve read that far.. Your “grandfathers’ day, was it 24 hours..? Back in Noah’s day… Did he only live 24 hours?
    Days can mean era’s, and that is what is here. Many rocks are over 7,000 years old. Bible also uses a “day for a year” in prophecy so Day can be a literal 24 hours or unnumbered hours as in a certain era. If one lives forever as the Almighty does, time isn’t an issue. Evening, Morning… Grandfather saw many of those, still lived more than 24 hours. The Sabbath Law wasn’t given till the Law covenant with Moses, that “day” was a 24 hour day. from evening to evening.. It also says in the first verse of Genesis… In the Beginning God created the heaven.. no one knows how long the planets, stars, etc. existed until He began to make the Earth suitable for Human habitation… And still as per above they could have been many years.

    1. Xeno

      You people baffle me. You are using a computer. You are on the Internet. You have access to more information than any human ever in the history of humanity about any number of subjects, including the age of the earth and the real origins of the various bible stories, and yet you use this great gift to try to justify a blind faith in ancient fantasies created by a tribe of superstitious goat herders.

      We know today that the earth is around 4.54 billion years old. The sun is about 4.57 billion years old, about 30 million years older than the earth. Why try to twist and stretch the words in an ancient book to make it seem true? This is a waste of time. The bible was written by people who lived long long ago, partly from their imaginations, because they needed to try to understand the Universe. There is nothing wrong with that, but we know much more now.

      2Peter was written about 2,000 years ago. We’ve made a lot of progress in 2,000 years! Join us in the year 2010. Out with the old, in with the new.

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