Woolly mammoth calf fossil? No, just a wayward walrus

 

There was more than a ripple of excitement in the scientific community yesterday as news spread that a reindeer herder in an isolated part of northern Siberia had found a perfectly preserved, fossilised woolly mammoth calf.

It was initially claimed that the find was as well preserved as Lyuba, the female mammoth calf discovered in Siberia in 2007. Believed to have died around 40,000 years ago, Lyuba is the best preserved mammoth ever found.

Authorities in the Yamalo-Nenets region said yesterday morning they were scrambling a helicopter to the location. "If what is said about how it is preserved turns out to be true, this will be another sensation of global significance," said the leader of the expedition, Natalia Fyodorova.

Disappointment was in store, however. "It turned out to be a walrus skull; apparently a fossilised one," said Ms Fyordorova, who is the director of the local museum. Still, she managed to put a brave face on the find. "It's still a good present for us. We don't have any walruses yet," she said.

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