Three-dimensional scans of two mummified newborn woolly mammoths recovered from the Siberian Arctic are revealing previously inaccessible details about the early development of prehistoric proboscideans. The research, conducted in part by American Museum of Natural History Richard Gilder Graduate School student Zachary T. Calamari, also suggest that both animals died from suffocation after inhaling mud. The findings were published July 8 in a special issue of the Journal of Paleontology.
“These two exquisitely preserved baby mammoths are like two snapshots in time,” said Calamari, who began investigating mammoths as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan working with paleontologist Daniel Fisher. “We can use them to understand how factors like location and age influenced the way mammoths grew into the huge adults that captivate us today.”