Meet 42,000-year-old baby mammoth Lyuba at National History Museum in London


The most complete specimen of a woolly mammoth fossil will be heading off to London. The baby mammoth fossil will go on display starting next month.

The young woolly mammoth, which has been named Lyuba was found by a Siberian reindeer herder named Yuri Khudi and his sons back in 2007 while the family is searching for wood in the frozen tundra. Lyuba is the Russian word for love.

"The beautifully preserved body of the world's most complete woolly mammoth is on its way to the Natural History Museum from the Shemanovsky Museum in Russia as part of a new exhibition opening on 23 May," says the National History Museum.

The baby mammoth fossil is small, just around the size of a large dog breed and researchers estimate that the baby was only around one month old when she died around 42,000 years ago. In fact, further analysis showed that the infant's stomach still contained traces of the mother mammoth's milk. To date, Lyuba is by far the most complete and well preserved woolly mammoth fossil on record.

Lyuba is around 33.5 inches in height and approximately 51 inches in length. The fossil was originally housed in the Shemanovsky Museum in Russia. Researchers from the National History museum in London say that they consider being allowed to display Lyuba as "an honour."

"The baby mammoth has been held at the Shemanovsky Museum in Salekhard since her discovery. This will be the first time she will have been seen in western Europe," the National History Museum says.

When Lyuba died tens of thousands of years ago, her body was almost immediately buried in mud and clay. After freezing shortly afterwards, the baby mammoth remained entombed in her frozen grave until she was found by the Siberian reindeer herders. The fossil was discovered near the vicinity of the Yuribei River in the Yamal Peninsula, Siberia.

While she died early, researchers say that the young mammoth was relatively healthy when she perished. Moreover, scientists are optimistic that further analysis on Lyuba's body may reveal more information about the extinction of these gentle giants.

"This exhibition is a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet this amazing creature," said the National History Museum's mammoth researcher Adrian Lister. "She is hugely important for helping us to understand the lives of ice age animals."

Once Lyuba goes on display this coming May, the exhibit will be open to the public until Sept. 7, 2014.

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