By A.P. Galling | Answers in Genesis
The frozen remains of a baby mammoth discovered in 2007 are stirring up
talk—especially because the mammoth is “remarkably preserved,” National
Geographic News reports.
Found in the icy north of Siberia, the mammoth—named Lyuba—looks nearly
lifelike. The photograph best shows how amazingly intact Lyuba is, with even
eyelashes and clumps of brown wool remaining. Hers is the most complete woolly
mammoth body to have ever been found.
By examining Lyuba’s body, paleontologists are gaining new insights into
mammoth anatomy and health. From CT scans of her internal organs to mineral
studies of her teeth, scientists now have better ideas about what she and other
mammoths ate as well as how healthy she was when she died.
“No other specimen preserves this much of the original anatomy. That makes
her a remarkable scientific resource,” said paleontologist Dan Fisher of the
University of Michigan’s Museum of Palaeontology. “It looked like she’d just
drifted off to sleep,” he continued. “Suddenly what I'd been struggling to
visualize for so long was lying right there for me to touch.”
How Did She Die?
At first Lyuba’s well-preserved body suggests a mystery: scientists have
determined that she was in good health and well fed when she died—so how did she
end up frozen in time? Lyuba’s stomach contains important clues, as The
Telegraph’s Richard Gray explains:
"Sediment was found packed inside the baby mammoth’s trunk, blocking the nasal
passages, and also in the mouth and windpipe. The experts believe that it may
have suffocated to death after becoming trapped in the thick mud that eventually
encased the body, where it had gradually pickled and was
And National Geographic News’s James Owen adds, “The oxygen-deprived
environment of its final resting place, likely a watery marsh or bog, prevented
decay and kept it intact save for only its tail and shaggy coat.”
But perhaps it isn’t so much of a mystery. Creationist mammoth expert Mike
Oard, in his landmark 2004 work Frozen in
"Strangely, scientists investigating three woolly mammoths and two woolly
rhinos, including the Beresovka mammoth, found they all died by
suffocation. For a live animal to die of suffocation, it had to be
buried rapidly or drowned." [Emphasis in original]
After reviewing the facts and the post-Flood Ice Age model, Oard eventually
"Cold, wind, flooding, and drought can account for many of the mammoth deaths,
but there is still the question as to how most of them became interred in the
permafrost. . . . The most-mentioned possibility is that the mammoths were
trapped in bogs. Some undoubtedly were trapped in bogs. . . . Bogs would have
been caused by the summer melting of the permafrost. When the top foot or two
(about half a meter) of permafrost melts in the summer, the water would pool
since the permafrost below remains frozen. The large animals inexperienced with
bogs could possibly have fallen into one. However, a bog may form year after
year, and the animal trapped in the bog may never end up in the permafrost below
the bog. Furthermore, large animals likely are strong enough to pull themselves
out of a shallow bog."
But for a baby mammoth, perhaps it was not strong enough to pull itself out
of even a shallow bog. An alternative possibility is that Lyuba died in a
large-scale local flood, as Oard explains:
"During deglaciation, some of the animals would have been trapped by flooding
rivers. Those that were trapped would have ended up in river terraces or flood
plains that would be incorporated into the permafrost. Some animals lie buried
in river deltas where they emptied into the Arctic Ocean."
Either way, Lyuba’s near-perfect preservation and sediment-filled lungs are
yet another evidence of catastrophic, watery burial—not the gradual effect of
A Biblical View of Mammoths
According to the model of a post-Flood Ice Age (which Oard explains), the frozen mammoths we
find today would have been preserved only a few thousand years ago.
By contrast, old-age scientists consider Lyuba to have died some 37,000 years
ago. Yet even Alexei Tikhonov of the Russian Academy of Science notes, “When you
look at [Lyuba], it’s hard to understand how she could have stayed in such good
condition for nearly 40,000 years.”
We also see evidence that mammoths and elephants may have been part of the same created kind. Adding a small bit of
evidence to that view, the Telegraph article notes that the scientists
discovered dung in the Lyuba’s stomach in addition to her mother’s milk. This is
the same behavior of baby elephants, which eat the dung of herd adults to fill
their gut with the bacteria they need to digest grass later in life.
Lyuba’s discovery reminds us of the power of the biblical model of history.
Mammoths fit well into our understanding of created kinds. Noah would have taken
representatives of that kind on the Ark, after which some of the descendants of
those representatives would have headed north. Those with such adaptations as
“woolly” exteriors would have survived in the cold of the post-Flood Ice Age,
but for reasons we will never know, they eventually died out. Yet the perfect
preservation of many mammoths remind us of the power of catastrophic events to
record major moments in Earth history.