Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Isn't this how we got the Hulk?

Name: Khoma.* Looks like: A baby mammoth. Age: somewhere above 50,000 years. Discovered in the permafrost of northern Siberia just last year, this rare example of prehistoric monster is on its way to Paris to be analysed, treated for the germs it's harbouring and eventually placed on display.


Khoma, still encased in ice, is enclosed in an isolated container and will be handled initially at a laboratory in Grenoble, which is the only one in the world specialised in gamma ray treatment.


"Our baby, inside its box, will undergo three to four days of a continuous bombardment of 20,000 grays of gamma rays," he said, grays being the unit that measures absorbed dosage.

The Syfy channel tried to warn us

That said, this is a pretty interesting mammoth. It's the oldest of the well-preserved baby mammoths and one of the oldest mammoths with tissue that have been discovered. It's too old for dependable radiocarbon dating. There was almost no coverage of the mammoth's discovery last year, just a short notice that someone had claimed the reward for finding a well-preserved mammoth. If the internal organs are intact, one of the most interesting objects of study will be what it ate. Half digested food can reveal immense amounts of information about the environment at the moment when the mammoth died.

* This is almost certainly a misspelling of the name. The little mammoth was found on the banks of the Khroma River in northern Siberia, so I'm assuming the name should be Khroma, not Khoma.


  1. Hi John. I found this site via Pharyngula. Several years ago I read "The Eyes of Discovery-America as Seen by the First Explorers", by John Bakeless. Like the title says, it's about what America looked like when the very first European explorers came. How big were the trees, fish, mammals, what were the locals doing, etc. There is a story about 114 British sailors deposited somewhere on the western Gulf coast in 1568 and, since they were surrounded by Spaniards, some of them decided to walk out in hopes of finding a ship to take them home. Three of them made it to the Nova Scotia area and were picked up by a French ship and taken home. Though illiterate, the men were able to describe their journey through the interior of America, probably going up the Mississippi River. Among the things they claimed they saw were "eliphantes".

    In Daniel Boone's memoirs he describes using mammoth vertebrae as campstools.

    Do you think Mammoths could have existed in North America as recently as the 16th century. I know the conventional wisdom is that the last ones died out on an island about 5000 years ago, but this is a big continent, and I can't help but wonder if they held out longer in what is now the area of Kentucky, Tennessee. What do you think? bowen dot johnny at gmail dot com.

  2. "The scientific community (paleontologists)would prosper significantly with the cooperation of sculptors and collectors throughout the Arctic regions of Pleistocene discoveries. The blanket perceptions by the scientific community towards artists, private field workers and random discoveries is severely pompous in cooperation with bureaucratic opportunists playing in the same sandbox. Private citizens are too eager, in all their ignorance, to hand over their rights to their employees." 'Too late for a lobby...too late for a wake-up-call'