One summer’s day in 2015, contractor Yakov Androsov was exploring the Sakha Republic’s remote Siberian landscapes in eastern Russia, on the hunt for mammoth tusks. Little did he know, however, that he would stumble across something that was, at first sight, frankly unbelievable.
But then Siberia is an especially important region for paleontologists. After all, its permafrost has preserved long-dead animals from the Pleistocene era – a period that lasted from around 1.8 million to 11,700 years ago – including mammoths and woolly rhinoceroses.
And the Sakha Republic, one of Russia’s federal subjects, makes up much of Siberia. It’s considered important because of its many natural resources; 99 percent of Russia’s diamonds, for example, are produced there. The newly discovered bones of the extinct, then, will only add to its importance.