The body of an “exquisitely preserved” young woolly mammoth has been discovered, and shows the pre-historic animals had “strawberry-blonde” hair.

The juvenile mammoth, which was found in a frozen cliff in Siberia, gives an important insight into the unknown secrets of the animal including hair and eye colour.

An examination of its body, described by scientists as having “huge significance”, is even said to show human beings “stole” their food from hunting lions, with wounds consistent with attack from both predators.

In found to be true, it will be the first evidence of interaction between mammoths and ancient humans ever found in the area.

The well-preserved mammal, which has been named Yuka, is thought to have been between three and four years old when it died and still has its foot pads and ginger hair in tact.

It may have lain unnoticed in its icy tomb for more than 10,000 years, experts said, with its injuries being perfectly frozen in time.

The find will be examined in a television programme for the BBC this evening.

Kevin Campbell, associate professor of environmental and evolutionary physiology at the University of Manitoba, told the BBC one of the most striking things about Yuka is its strawberry-blonde hair.

Mammoths have previously been thought to have darker fur, with the possibility of lighter-coloured coats only being proposed in 2006 when scientists analysed genes from a bone.

The find now provides direct evidence that this was the case and will help experts determine how eye and hair colour were spread among mammoth populations.

Professor Campbell said: "These are remarkably rare finds and have huge significance."

Other experts have highlighted the importance of serious injuries to the mammoth, which indicate ancient humans may have “stolen” the carcass from another predator.

They show young Yuka had a freshly broken leg and serious flesh wounds, as well as older scratches which may show it survived an earlier attack.

But, instead of only showing damage consistent with a lion attacks, the body also has cut marks and openings which appear more likely to have come from human beings.

Daniel Fisher, professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Michigan, said: “Already there is dramatic evidence of a life-and-death struggle between Yuka and some top predator, probably a lion.

“Even more interesting, there are hints that humans may have taken over the kill at an early stage.”

The mammoth was found by tusk hunters in Siberia before being acquired by the Mammuthus organisation, enabling experts to begin analysing it.

It is not the first mammoth body to be found, but it has unusually well-preserved soft tissue with muscle, skin and internal organs that are rarely found on carcasses.

The full programme, Woolly Mammoth: Secret from the Ice, is on BBC 2 at 9pm.


VIDEO The mammoth which was found in a frozen ice cliff in Siberia is "exquisitely preserved"

Responses to "Discovered: woolly mammoth with 'strawberry-blonde hair' (Video)"

  1. Anonymous says:

    Oh Wow that is some discovery.

  2. Anonymous says:

    So are we gonna have mule size mammoths roaming around earth, interesting

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