WHITEHORSE — A nearly complete mummified baby woolly mammoth has been found in Klondike gold fields within Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin Traditional Territory.
Miners working on Euraka Creek in the Yukon found the mammoth while excavating through permafost.
Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin Elders have named the mammoth calf Nun cho ga, meaning “big baby animal” in the Hän language, a Government of Yukon and Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin joint release stated.
“This is as a remarkable recovery for our First Nation, and we look forward to collaborating with the Yukon government on the next steps in the process for moving forward with these remains in a way that honours our traditions, culture, and laws. We are thankful for the Elders who have been guiding us so far and the name they provided. We are committed to respectfully handling Nun cho ga as she has chosen now to reveal herself to all of us,” Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Chief Roberta Joseph said in a statement.
An examination of the mammoth suggested it was female and geologists from the Yukon Geological Survey and University of Calgary who recovered the frozen mammoth onsite suggest Nun cho ga died and was frozen in permafrost during the ice age, over 30,000 years ago.
“The Klondike Placer Miners’ Association is thrilled about this incredible discovery. We are proud to work with responsible placer miners, like the McCaughan family, that regularly contribute to the Yukon’s paleontological record through their work. We extend thanks to Brian and Sharon and the crew, as well as Yukon’s Paleontology Program and Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in for coming together so quickly to preserve and celebrate this rare find,” added Klondike Placer Miners’ Association executive director Brooke Rudolf.
This is the first near-complete and best preserved mummified woolly mammoth found in North America to date.
“As an ice age paleontologist, it has been one of my life-long dreams to come face to face with a real woolly mammoth. That dream came true today. Nun cho ga is beautiful and one of the most incredible mummified ice age animals ever discovered in the world. I am excited to get to know her more,” Yukon paleontologist Dr. Grant Zazula said.
“There will be one thing that stands out in a person’s entire life and I can guarantee you this is my one thing,” Brian McCaughan of Treadstone Mining added.