Khroma and Lyuba Wooly Mammoths: Ancient Baby Mammoths Inhaled Mud And Suffocated To Death

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Lyuba and Khroma are two newborn woolly mammoths from the Arctic and probably the best preserved baby mammoth specimens ever found around the world.

A new scientific study suggests they died brutally inhaling mud and suffocating.

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The well-preserved mummy of Lyuba, a wooly mammoth calf that lived for 40000 years in the Arctic. Photo: Francis Latreille

Lyuba was found by reindeer herders in 2007 along the Yuribei River in northwest Siberia; Khroma was found in 2008 in permafrost near the Khroma River in northeast Siberia.

This animation by University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology shows Lyuba’s mummy outer surface from all sides.

The two babies were alive about 40,000 years ago (determined through counting of daily growth layers in scans of their teeth) and belonged to populations living 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) apart. Lyuba died 30 to 35 days after birth, and Khroma died between 52 and 57 days.

This Animation by University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology of CT images shows Lyuba’s skeleton from all sides:

X-ray images of the two newborn woolly mammoths from the Arctic reveal details of their violent deaths: Both calves appear to have died from suffocation after inhaling mud. A solid mass of fine-grained sediment blocked air passages in the middle of Lyuba’s trunk, and sediment was also seen in the throat and bronchial passages. Slightly coarser sediment was found in Khroma’s trunk, mouth, and throat.

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