Mastodon Scientific Frontline: Paleontologists Found Mammoth Baby, Ancient Bear Teeth, and Lair of Cave Hyenas

Friday, September 30, 2022

Paleontologists Found Mammoth Baby, Ancient Bear Teeth, and Lair of Cave Hyenas

Scientists will open a new expedition season in spring.
Photo credit: TASS-Ural Press Center / Vladislav Burnashev

Paleontologists of Ural Federal University and the Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology of Ural Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences during summer expeditions found a large number of ancient bones, teeth, as well as wool and skin of a mammoth baby. The study of remains will allow us to recreate the specifics of the flora and fauna of ancient times in detail and to understand the specifics of animal nutrition. Scientists told about the results of summer expeditions at a press conference in TASS.

On the Gyda Peninsula (Far North), paleontologists found the well-preserved remains of a mammoth baby. The uniqueness of the discovery is its age - it is a six-year-old mammoth baby. If previously only single bones were found, now the researchers have found material that will help study mammoth babies, said Pavel Kosintsev, a leading expert of the Laboratory of Natural Science Methods in Humanities of UrFU, a Senior Researcher of the Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Photo credit: TASS-Ural Press Center / Vladislav Burnashev

"A whole skull and most of the skeleton were found in good condition, and soft tissue and hide were also preserved. Of special note is the preservation of the trunk, eye and ear. Based on the analysis of collected data we will be able to reconstruct the natural conditions in which the mammoth lived, to establish whether it made migratory transitions. In addition, with the help of isotope studies we will be able to find out whether the mammoth baby at this age began to self-feed or still fed on its mother's milk. This is one of the most important questions, because science does not know for sure at what age mammoths became independent," says Pavel Kosintsev.

In the South Ural paleontologists have conducted research in three caves: Pobeda, Nukatskaya and Taptugay. The Taptugay cave was discovered this summer, and scientists have visited it for the first time. They found out that the cave was a lair of hyenas, of which there were very few in the Urals. The great finding was bones and lower jaws of cave hyenas. In the Pobeda and Nukatskaya caves, scientists continued to conduct the search for the remains of cave bears, where their lairs were.

Photo credit: TASS-Ural Press Center / Vladislav Burnashev

"We conduct "rescue" research at Pobeda Ice Cave. Every year we monitor the melting of the glacier in the cave and collect the bones that appear from beneath it. These are literally small pieces of cave bear teeth. This cave is visited by many tourists, so we try to find as much material as possible, protect it from trampling and save it for science," said Dmitry Gimranov, Senior Researcher of the Laboratory of Natural Science Methods in Humanities of Ural Federal University and the Laboratory of Paleoecology of the Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology of Ural Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences.

In August-September the researchers had their longest expedition to the Tavrida Cave in the Crimea. During excavations in the grottoes of the cave, paleontologists collected almost all accessible material of hooved animals' bones. According to Anton Kochnev, Junior Researcher of the Laboratory of Natural Science Methods in Humanities of Ural Federal University, the discovery of teeth of hyenas, Etruscan wolves, lynx, and the lower jaw of an ancient marten are of great interest. All these data will help to describe the natural environment that existed in the Crimea 2 million years ago.

Source/Credit: Ural Federal University

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