Young dog walker discovers mammoth

Posted by Kate Taylor

An eleven-year-old Russian boy has discovered what appears to be one of the best-preserved mammoth carcasses ever found.

The 300,000-year-old remains were exposed by melting permafrost by a river in Sopochnaya Karga, 2,200 miles northeast of Moscow.

According to local news services, the boy, from a nomadic family, was drawn to the body by an unpleasant smell while out walking his dogs.

A team from the St Petersburg Zoology Institute then excavated the mammoth from the freezing mud in which it was encased.

"We had to use both traditional instruments such as axes, picks, shovels as well as such devices as this 'steamer' which allowed us to thaw a thin layer of permafrost," team member Alexei Tikhonov told the BBC.

"Then we cleaned it off, and then we melted more of it. It took us a week to complete this task."

They team says it's one of the best-preserved specimens ever found, with tusks, mouth and rib cage clearly visible, and flesh, fur and fat intact. Unfortunately, though, it appears that the animal's DNA isn't well-enough preserved to be of any help creating a clone.

The mammoth is believed to have been about 16 years old when it died. It was about six and a half feet high and weighed about 1,100 pounds. The scientists suggest it could have been killed by another mammoth, or by human beings, as it is missing one tusk and the other is split.