A man following a reindeer herd in northwestern Siberia found more than he was looking for last month when he discovered the skull of a huge woolly mammoth peeking out of a lake.
Archaeologists managed to unearth most of the mammal’s skeleton, some soft tissues, wool, and a 2-inch piece of excrement called coprolite, Live Science reported.
“The coprolite was definitely left by this very mammoth,” Dmitry Frolov, head of the Arctic Research Centre, told The Siberian Times. “It is a very good find, as it can contain a lot of information about the mammoth’s diet, as well as pollen of ancient plants, and a lot more.”
The approximately 15-year-old male mammoth stood between 6.5 and 8 feet tall. Scientists don’t know how it died but don’t think humans killed it.
According to a 2017 study published in Current Biology, woolly mammoths lived in a matriarchal society and practiced sex segregation, leaving many young males alone. Without a family group or experienced bull to teach them, young or solitary males died more often than females by falling into holes, walking on thin ice, or getting trapped in mudflows.
This is the third woolly mammoth and the only adult uncovered on the Yamal peninsula. Scientists in 2007 discovered baby Lyuba, a 1-month-old calf. In 1988, a group unearthed a female that died between the ages of 1 and 3 months. —J.B.