WASHINGTON — Frozen in time under permafrost was "Nun cho ga", the near complete baby woolly mammoth uncovered by a Canadian miner on Tuesday.
The rare discovery marks the best-preserved mummified woolly mammoth in North America as the ice age era fossil still retains its hair and skin, according to the Yukon government's press release.
The fossil, named by Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin Elders, was found in the Klondlike gold fields within Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin Traditional Territory. Nun cho ga means "big baby animal" in the Hän language.
The recovery of the female mammoth was a joint effort between miners, Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin, the Government of Yukon’s Department of Environment, Yukon Geological Survey and Yukon Palaeontology Program, according to the press release.
"There will be one thing that stands out in a person's entire life and I can guarantee you this is my one thing," said Treadstone miner Brian McCaughan in the press release.
Nun cho ga's remains are roughly the same size as the 42,000 year old baby woolly mammoth found in Siberia in 2007. Geologists from Yukon Geological Survey and University of Calgary suggest the fossil is over 30,000 years old.
University of Calgary professor Dan Shugar said on Twitter that he joined a team of geologists called to help recover the remains before they thawed.
"We were able to study the permafrost section that the mammoth came out of," he wrote. "And as soon as we finished up, the skies opened to an absolute downpour with lightning, hail, mud that seemed to come from the ground upwards."
Shugar said the remains show "incredible" preservation, with intact hair, trunk and even toenails.
"As an ice age palaeontologist, it has been one of my life long dreams to come face to face with a real woolly mammoth," said Yukon Paleontologist Dr. Grant Zazula in the press release. "Nun cho ga is beautiful and one of the most incredible mummified ice age animals ever discovered in the world. I am excited to get to know her more."