An unbelievable discovery was found last week in the Klondike gold fields within the Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin traditional territory in Canada. Miners carefully excavated through the permafrost of the fields when they uncovered a mummified, baby woolly mammoth. Upon discovering the ancient find, scientists believe this woolly mammoth was frozen during the Ice Age over 30,000 years ago. The rare find was confirmed to be a young female baby mammoth, and scientists confirmed the name, Nun cho ga, meaning "big baby animal" in the Hän language, by Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin Elders.
Woolly Mammoths wandered Europe, Asia, and North America from around 300,000 years ago until about 10,000 years ago, according to National Geographic. For centuries, scientists believed humans were the reason why woolly mammoths went extinct. But scientists have now proved that the reason behind this massive animal extinction was actually due to climate change and its snowball effect. According to Professor Eske Willerslev, who led the 10-year research project proving that humans were not the reason woolly mammoths became extinct noted, "it was not just the climate changing that was the problem, but the speed of it that was the final nail in the coffin -- they were not able to adapt quickly enough when the landscape dramatically transformed and their food became scarce."
The discovery of Nun cho has been a major accomplishment for the Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin and the Government of Yukon. The Yukon is known for its fossil record of ice age animals, but the woolly mammoth that was found had hair and skin remains, making it the most complete mummified mammoth found in North America. In 1948, a partial mammoth calf, Effie, was found at a gold mine in Alaska.
Following the discovery, Dr. Grant Zazula, a paleontologist in Yukon, released a statement saying, "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." Dr. Grant Zazula continued, "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."