mammoths and woolly rhinoceroses from the Pleistocene can
found in the permafrost of Alaska and Northern Siberia.
The entire organism
is sometimes preserved in this frozen soil.
the last Ice Age some of these animals died in areas that
cold. Eventually, in rare instances, organisms were buried
in what became permafrost soil. Bones, muscles, internal
organs, partly digested food, skin and hair
can sometimes be found. Both the course guard hair and
soft underwool of the mammoth is represented in the specimen
of the 30,000 year old woolly mammoths found are so fresh
that they could be eaten by humans and animals (Prothero,
2004, p. 9).
the spring of 2007 Yuri Khudi, a Nenet reindeer herder,
discovered a baby Mammuthus primigenius exposed
on a sandbar of the Yuribey River in Siberia. The 40,000
year old fossil mammoth was named Lyuba after Khudi's wife.
nicknamed the Ice Baby, represents one of the best preserved
fossils found to date in the permafrost of Siberia. Lyuba
was one month old when she drowned in soft sediments
of silt and clay. Paleontologist Dan Fisher has determined
that more than just the frozen permafrost was essential
in Lyuba's excellent preservation (Miller, 2009, p. 41).
colonized her tissues after death. The lactic acid produced by
these bacteria acted as a preservative, pickling Lyuba's
As new sediments accumulated above Lyuba the layers in
which she was entombed turned to permafrost. Eventually,
eroded the permafrost that encased Lyuba and transported
her downstream. The lactic acid that originally helped
to preserve the tissues now protected the fossil from present
day scavengers as it lay exposed on the sandbar. Thus,
for Lyuba preservation by both chemical means and freezing
were critical factors in the fossilization process.
T. (2009). Ice Baby: Secrets of a Frozen Mammoth. National
Geographic, May 2009, vol. 215, No. 5, pp. 34-49.
F.A. & Miller, D.S. (1998). Discovering Fossils:
How to Find and Identify Remains of the Prehistoric Past.
Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books.
D.R. (2004). Bringing Fossils to Life: An Introduction
to Paleobiology [2nd edition]. New York: McGraw-Hill.
P.V., Rich T. H., Fenton, M.A., & Fenton, C.L. (1996). The
Fossil Book: A Record of Prehistoric Life. Mineola,
NY: Dover Publications, Inc.
I. (1982). National Audubon Society Field Guide to
Fossils. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.