The discovery of the well-preserved mammal, know as Yuka, could reveal evidence of a run-in with prehistoric humans, as well as the typical predators she would have faced on a daily basis.
The carcass of Yuka, who was found by Siberian tusk hunters, is in extremely good condition and much of her pink flesh and strawberry blonde hair remains.
Daniel Fisher, professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Michigan, told Discovery News: “This is the first relatively complete mammoth carcass – that is, a body with soft tissues preserved – to show evidence of human association.”
Speaking to the BBC, he added: “Already there is dramatic evidence of a life-and-death struggle between Yuka and some top predator, probably a lion.”
The remains are currently being carbon dated, but so far it is estimated Yuka lived more than 10,000 years ago. It is believed she was two-and-a-half years old when she was killed.
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Professor Fisher continued: “It appears that Yuka was pursued by one or more lions or another large felid, judging from deep, unhealed scratches in the hide and bite marks on the tail.
“Yuka then apparently fell, breaking one of the lower hind legs. At this point, humans may have moved in to control the carcass, butchering much of the animal and removing parts that they would use immediately.”
Bernard Buigues, the founder of scientific organisation Mammuthus prevented Yuka’s remains from falling into the hands of private collectors.
Yuka’s story is featured in the BBC/Discovery Co-Production programme Woolly Mammoth: Secrets from the Ice.