Reindeer herders find well-preserved mammoth bones in Siberian lake | News | DW | 24.07.2020
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Reindeer herders find well-preserved mammoth bones in Siberian lake

Russian reindeer herders have found parts of a well-preserved skeleton of a woolly mammoth in a Siberian lake, with more fragments likely still hiding in the silt. Some of the bones still have ligaments attached.

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Prehistoric mammoth skeleton found in northern Siberia

Russian scientists are excavating the well-preserved skeleton of a woolly mammoth found in a lake in northern Siberia, The Associated Press reported Friday.

Fragments of the skeleton, which still has some ligaments attached, were discovered by local reindeer herders near the shore of Pechevalavato Lake in Russia's Yamal-Nenets region earlier this week.

The herders found part of the mammoth's skull, several ribs and a fragment of its foot with ligament still attached.

Two men study the fragment of a mammoth bone found in a lake in Siberia

Only parts of the skeleton have so far been recovered from the Pechevalavato Lake in northern Russia

"The lake bottom mud may hold the rest of the mammoth skeleton," Dmitry Frolov, the head of the Research Center for Arctic Studies, told Russian news agency TASS.

"It is necessary to record the exact location of the remains for further studies," he added.

Full excavation will take time

On Friday, Russian television stations showed footage of scientists looking for more mammoth bones in the lakeside silt.

Several larger fragments have already been found following the original discovery this week. However, excavating the rest of the skeleton will require significant time and special equipment, assuming it all survived in position together, the scientists said. 

Finding a complete mammoth skeleton is relatively rare, said Yevgeniya Khozyainova of the Shemanovsky Institute in Salekhard in televised remarks.

Read more: Record heat wave in Siberia: What happens when climate change goes extreme?

Heat wave melting Siberia's permafrost

Experts believe woolly mammoths died out around 10,000 years ago. Reaching 5.5 meters (18 feet) in height and weighing up to 12 tons, they were around twice the size and weight of today's elephant.

The carcasses of several well-preserved mammoths have been uncovered in the permafrost of northern Siberia in recent years, as the region faces a rapid change of climate.

Siberia is currently experiencing a heat wave, in another warning sign to climate experts who believe rising temperatures could melt the permafrost and release huge amounts of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere . On Friday, the UN weather agency warned that last month's average temperatures there were 10 degrees Celsius (18 Fahrenheit) above normal.

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