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Lyuba (Люба) is a female woolly mammoth calf (Mammuthus primigenius) who died c. 41,800 years ago at the age of 30 to 35 days. She is by far the best preserved mammoth mummy in the world, surpassing Dima, a male mammoth calf mummy which had previously been the best known specimen.
Discovered in May 2007 by Nenets reindeer breeder and hunter Yuri Khudi in Russia's Arctic Yamal Peninsula, she was named "Lyuba", a diminutive form of the word Lyubov' (Любовь, Russian: "Love"), after the discoverer's wife. The mummified calf weighed 50 kg (110 lb), was 85 centimeters (33.5 in.) high and measured 130 centimeters (51 in.) from trunk to tail, roughly the same size as a large dog. Studies of her teeth indicate she was born in spring following a gestation similar in length to that of a modern elephant.
At the time of discovery, the calf was remarkably well-preserved; her eyes and trunk were intact and some fur remained on her body. Lyuba's organs and skin are in perfect condition. The mammoth was transferred to Jikei University School of Medicine in Japan for further study, including computer tomography scans. Lyuba is believed to have suffocated by inhaling mud as she struggled while bogged down in deep mud in the bed of a river which her herd was crossing. Following death, her body may have been colonized by lactic acid-producing bacteria, which "pickled" her, preserving the mammoth in a nearly pristine state. Her skin and organs are intact, and scientists were able to identify milk from her mother in her stomach, and fecal matter in her intestine. The fecal matter may have been eaten by Lyuba to promote development of the intestinal microbial assemblage necessary for digestion of vegetation. Lyuba appears to have been healthy at the time of her death. By examining Lyuba's teeth, researchers hope to gain insight into what caused Ice Age mammals, including the mammoths, to become extinct at the end of the Pleistocene era around 10,000 years ago.
Lyuba, on loan from the Shemanovskiy Museum and Exhibition Center, will be showcased in an exhibition entitled "Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age." This exhibition is scheduled to make stops at ten venues in North America and overseas over a four year period, having been developed at the Field Museum in Chicago. Other tour stops include Liberty Science Center in Jersey City in Fall 2010, Anchorage Museum, Missouri History Museum, Boston Museum of Science, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and San Diego Natural History Museum. As of October 2012, Lyuba is on showcase in "Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age" at the Boston Museum of Science. I