Siberia is said to have a lot of wondrous beauty and many natural wonders that are seen by so very few people, but you never know what may turn up. Well, hidden in the frozen ground for almost 10,000 years, was a very well-preserved bison mummy that actually looks quite happy to have finally been unearthed.
The rather oddly-smiling bison was found by members of the Yukagir tribe from North Siberia, and it actually happened way back in 2011. According to Fox News, the remains of the steppe bison (Bison priscus) were transported to the Yakutian Academy of Sciences in Siberia, and an autopsy is planned for the animal.
“Normally, what you find with the mummies of megafauna in North America or Siberia is partial carcasses. They’re partly eaten or destroyed because they’re lying in the permafrost for tens of thousands of years,” Olga Potapova, the collections curator and manager at the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs in South Dakota, told Live Science. “But the mummy was preserved so well that it [earned] a record for the level of its preservation.”
As stated by NBC News, the steppe bison is actually an extinct ancestor of today’s modern bison that can be found in northern Europe and North America.
The bison mummy found in Siberia actually is one of the most well-preserved that has ever been found. The cold temperatures of the region allowed for the internal organs of the creature to be kept almost entirely intact and perfectly recognizable.
Scientists and historians believe the found Yukagir bison died at the young age of just about 4-years-old. Signs show that it most likely died of starvation and that is not uncommon for some animals in Siberia.
The bison’s brain, which was also extremely well-preserved, has been removed from the animal and will be studied further. All of the other organs have also been removed so that studies of the tissues can be conducted and data can be collected to compare it to the bison species of today.
Believe it or not, researchers are also interested in the ancient parasites that once infested the mammal and others in the plains of Siberia. The reasoning behind this is that the DNA of the bison was not preserved, but the parasites that once fed on it would be able to provide those missing pieces of information.
“Anatomy, physiology, genetics these give us very good information to construct the bison’s habitat, behavior and style of life. If we get all this information, we’ll be able to pin down the real reasons for the extinction of the species,” Potapova said.