Ultimately, this speciman
was sent to the Shemanovsky Museum in Salechard, Siberia. In 2007, a group of scientists began
researching Lyuba. It was radiocarbon dated as having died 40,000 years ago. A
CATSCAN analysis was taken by Dr. Naoki Suzuki, in Japan. In June 2008, an
autopsy was conducted in St. Petersburg, Russia, by a team including Dr. Suzuki
(Japan), Dr. Dan Fisher, (Michigan, USA), Dr. Alexei Tikhonov (Russia) and
Bernard Buigues (France). The baby mammoth had been thought to be 4 months old,
but it was discovered to be only one month old, based on the teeth and tusks.
It had excellent DNA. The stomach contents indicated it had ingested some of
its mother’s dung to create the microbes necessary to process any plants it
There was also mother’s milk in the stomach. In addition, the CATSCAN indicated the cause of death as the probability of ingesting very fluid mud, causing the calf to die of asphyxiation. It is thought the calf died while trying to follow its mother across a melt water stream. The body was buried in wet clay and mud, and was frozen, preserving it until emerging from the ice some 40,000 years later.
This replica of Lyuba was created by sculptor, Remie Bakker, for Dick Mol, an avid researcher of Pleistocene fauna of the Netherlands and North Sea. Remie has created numerous life-sized sculptures of Ice Age mammals for the 2005 World Expo in Aichi, Japan, and several European museums. This replica of Lyuba is permanent loan to the Mammoth Site by Dick and Friedje Mol.
National Geographic magazine (May 2009) had a large article titled, “ICE BABY: secrets of a frozen mammoth”, as well as a television documentary, “Waking the Baby Mammoth” on the National Geographic Channel, (April 2009).
Here is information from that article:A Baby Mammoth Named Lyuba
Sometimes, nearly intact mammoths are found in the permafrost of Siberia. In 2007, a Siberian reindeer herder found a beautifully preserved female baby mammoth along the bank of the Yeribei River.
Named Lyuba (the Russian word for "love") by Russian museum officials, she is the most complete mammoth specimen ever found—and the most studied by researchers. She’s currently on loan to the Mammoths and Mastodons exhibition from the Shemanovskiy Museum and exhibition center in Yamal, Russia.
Radiocarbon dating reveals that Lyuba (pronounced Lee-OO-bah) lived about 42,000 years ago. Her amazing state of preservation is due to three factors:
1. She was buried quickly after death in fine sediment that sealed off oxygen.
2. She was "pickled" by acids formed by bacteria that entered her body soon after her death.
3. She remained frozen in Siberia's permafrost over many thousands of years.
Lyuba's DNA is well preserved and represents a population of mammoths for which few samples exist. Her DNA may help us learn more about mammoth history.
Lyuba's Life and Death
Scientists have learned much about Lyuba's life and death through forensic analysis combined with modern imaging technologies, such as CT-scans and MRIs. For example, scans reveal that Lyuba was a healthy baby mammoth and suffered no broken bones before her death, which occurred when she was about one month old.
During their examinations, scientists also found that Lyuba's trunk, mouth, esophagus, and trachea were clogged with sediment, suggesting that she choked or asphyxiated and that her death was sudden and accidental. Scientists think that she suffocated in soft mud near a river channel.
Learning from Lyuba
As the most complete mammoth yet discovered, Lyuba is invaluable to scientists. In fact, Lyuba's skeleton, teeth, flesh, and internal organs are so well preserved that they can reveal surprising details about mammoth life.
Researchers Bernard Buigues, Alexei Tikhonov, and Dan Fisher, founding members of the International Mammoth Committee (IMC), spearheaded efforts to study Lyuba and ensure her long-term preservation. To learn more about the IMC and their work, skip to Exhibition Curators.
By studying Lyuba's intestines, scientists learned more about what baby mammoths ate. Residues of partly digested milk from Lyuba's mother indicate Lyuba was well nourished and had eaten shortly before her death.
Mammoth dung (poop!) was also found inside Lyuba's intestines. Elephants feed dung to their calves to introduce bacteria that will help digest plants—apparently, mammoths did the same thing.
Scientists can learn a lot from Lyuba's teeth and tusks, including her time in the womb, when she was born, and her age at death. For example, the development of Lyuba's baby teeth gives us a good idea of how long she spent in her mother's womb: about 22 months, which is the same as elephants.
A growth line in Lyuba's tooth dentin—called the neonatal line—marks the time of Lyuba's birth. Isotope analysis confirms that she was born in early spring. Lyuba's tooth dentin also tells us when she died. Tooth growth stopped when Lyuba was about one month old.
Though Lyuba was still too young to eat "solid food" like plants, researchers discovered pollen inside her intestines. The pollen was mostly from grasses and sedges—but almost no trees—suggesting that Lyuba lived in a near tree-less environment.