Image: Mauricio Antón/Wiki Commons
When you were 11 years old, you were probably just discovering the truth about the birds and the bees. Imagine the surprise on 11-year-old Yevgeny Salinder's face when he stumbled upon a woolly mammoth.
The young Russian boy must have thought he'd uncovered a monster.
The 30,000-year-old carcass was spotted peaking out from the permafrost while Salinder was hiking in the tundra of the Taymyr peninsula in northern Russia, according to New Scientist. Although woolly mammoths have been discovered buried in the Siberian permafrost before, the remains Salinder found are in excellent condition, making them ideal for a museum exhibit and further study. The mammoth's tusks, mouth and ribcage are especially well-preserved.
Though it is officially being called the Sopkarga mammoth, the ancient beast has also been given the more personalized nickname of "Zhenya" in honor of its 11-year-old discoverer, who shares the nickname. "Zhenya" means "noble" in Russian.
There are now plans for the mammoth to be transported to Moscow and St. Petersburg for further study. One thing scientists will be looking for is a DNA sample suitable enough for cloning. Recent studies by Russian and South Korean scientists have yielded sufficient DNA for cloning from other mammoth carcasses, and many researchers now believe it is just a matter of time before a cloned woolly mammoth is viable. In 2011, Japanese researchers announced plans to resurrect a mammoth within 5 years time.
Who knows, with a little luck maybe the first mammoth to walk the Earth since the Pleistocene will carry the nickname of "Zhenya" too.
By Bryan Nelson