A stunningly well preserved 10ft tall wooly mammoth has been found with pieces of soft tissue and skin attached to its bones in a Siberian lake by researchers.
Experts from the Scientific Centre for Arctic studies have been working on studying the 10,000 year old remains of the giant mammal that was found in silt deposits.
Scientists behind the discovery also announced they have found the giant extinct beast’s fossilised excrement which will be analysed to understand the woolly mammoth’s diet.
The first remains were pulled out of Lake Pechenelava-To on the Yamal peninsula in northern Russia last month with up to 90 per cent of the skeleton now excavated.
The creature is expected to be named Tadibe after is finder Konstantin Tadibe, a reindeer herder living near the lake where the mammoth was found.
Tadibe died around 10,000 years ago and was between 15 and 20 years old when it died, according to the team behind the discovery.
Its discovery followed two summers of extreme thawing of the Arctic permafrost that has kept the creature encased in an icy grave since ancient times.
The Siberian Arctic is now suffering unprecedented wildfires due to hot, dry weather and this has led to thawing that has unveiled long-hidden creatures.
‘We have one front and one hind foot well preserved, with tendons, soft tissues and pieces of skin,’ said Evgenia Khozyainova, an expert from Shemanovsky Museum.
‘We also have sacrum with adjacent vertebrae, including the tail preserved with tendons and a big piece of skin.’
The flesh from the young adult male has been put in a fridge to preserve it for future scientific examination.
They haven’t been able to discovery its ivory tusks – the team say they’re not sure if they were stolen by ancient man after the beast died or forced off by ice.
Its trunk is also missing and the brain of the beast is also not present despite some early speculation it may have been preserved.
The mammoth may have become stuck in an ice crevice and been unable to escape, said Dr Pavel Kosintsev from the Russian Academy of Sciences, who took part in the excavations.
Yevgeniya Khozyainova, a scientist from a local museum, said it was unusual to find so many bones belonging to a single species and to know where they came from.
‘Of course, we’d like to find the remaining parts, to understand how complete a find it is. Whenever there is soft tissue left behind, it is valuable material to study,’ she said.
There are no signs of attack or butchering by ancient man, though its remains show evidence of animal predators gnawing at bones after it perished.
The excrement is seen as a significant scientific discovery, said Dmitry Frolov, of the Arctic Research Centre.
‘The coprolite was definitely left by this very mammoth,’ he said.
‘It is a very good find, as it can contain a lot of information about the mammoth diet, and the pollen of ancient plants. ‘We plan to study this very thoroughly.’
The discovery near Seyakha village is a potential boost for scientists in their efforts to obtain sufficient DNA from permafrost-preserved extinct woolly mammoths to allow the hairy giants to be brought back to life via a test tube.
Russian, US, South Korean and Japanese experts are all working to recreate the long-gone monster.
Scientists think the lake may be a graveyard of woolly mammoths and that other preserved animals will be found there – but it isn’t easy extracting skeletons.
‘Imagine you are digging a pit on a beach, at the water edge,’ said Dr Andrey Gusev, from the Centre of Arctic Research.
‘It was constantly filling with water and sand, so we had to pump it away every two or three hours.’
Woolly mammoths roamed the planet during the Ice Age and finally became extinct some 4,000 years ago in the Russian Arctic islands.
The beasts were around twice the size and weight of today’s elephants, reaching up to 18ft in height and weighing up to 12 tonnes.
The world’s best-preserved woolly mammoth named Lyuba was also discovered on the Yamal peninsula 13 years ago.
This baby with intact internal organs, eyes, trunk and some hair is believed to have died some 40,000 years ago, aged one month.
Another Yamal discovery of a woolly mammoth calf was made in 1988, called Masha.
The find of the new mammoth remains come after the thawing of the Arctic territories of northern Russia in an unusually hot summer.
Elsewhere in the region – in Yakutia – massive infernos are underway in the tundra.
These are both wildfires raging through the foliage and so-called zombie Yeinferiors where peat is burning underground.