One of the Most Well-Preserved Woolly Mammoths We've Ever Found

Rarely do researchers encounter a woolly mammoth that is as perfectly preserved as the one you see here; recently discovered entombed in the arctic steppes of Siberia, the juvenile mammoth (which has been named "Yuka") has been so well protected throughout the millenia that its foot pads and hair are still intact. What's more, researchers say its thick, strawberry blonde locks are unlike any they've ever seen.

Researchers had long believed woolly mammoths to possess dark coats of long, shaggy hair. That was until 2006, when genetic analyses revealed that these massive animals may have sported lighter coats than we once thought. Now, Yuka has provided researchers with direct evidence that this was, in fact the case.

Also interesting is what the creature's remains reveal about the way it died.

"Already there is dramatic evidence of a life-and-death struggle between Yuka and some top predator, probably a lion," leading mammoth expert, Daniel Fisher, told the BBC.

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

Researchers have yet to determine if these hints — which include missing bones, serrated markings on Yuka's right flank, and a long, straight cut running down the mammoth's back — were left by humans over ten thousand years ago, or by the tusk-hunters who discovered the specimen in Russia.

"There are some odd things," said Alice Roberts, who was part of the film crew that documented the mammoth's recovery from the tusk hunters. "What we need to do is find out if this was human interference near the time of death or was it something that happened much later?"

"If it happened near the time of death then it means Yuka is a very important specimen as there are not many [mammoths] that show human interactions."

Read more about the discovery over on BBC News.