The Yukagir bison mummy was hidden away under frozen ground for nearly 10,000 years.
Now, this extremely well-preserved bison is finally ready to give up its secrets.
In 2011, members of the Yukagir tribe in northern Siberia discovered the remains of a steppe bison (Bison priscus), an extinct ancestor of the modern bison that still roam the plains of North America and northern Europe. The almost perfectly preserved bison was transported to the Yakutian Academy of Sciences in Siberia, where researchers made plans to perform an autopsy on the animal.
While other steppe bison mummies have been discovered over the years, none have been as well-preserved as the so-called Yukagir bison mummy. It was indeed found with its internal organs almost completely intact – heart, blood vessels and digestive system and brain. And this is the first time that a steppe bison’s brain tissue has been found intact.
This out of the wolrd as what you normally find with the mummies of megafauna in North America or Siberia is partial carcasses, partly eaten or destroyed because they’re lying in the permafrost for tens of thousands of years.
The researchers think the Yukagir bison died young, at about 4 years old. The lack of fat around the bison’s abdomen suggests the animal died of starvation.
The goal of the research is to collect data about this ancient bison that can then be used to compare it to modern bison species – ancient parasites, anatomy, physiology, genetics to construct the bison’s habitat, behavior and style of life. And finally determine the real reasons for the mysterious extinction of the Yukagir steppe bison.