Gigantes da Era do Gelo – a casa de Lyuba

Mamutes e mastodantes nas gélidas terras da Anchorage, Alasca.

Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center

O Anchorage já foi tema de post aqui no Maniamuseu. A exposicão traz Lyuba, uma múmia de “elefante” conservada pelo gelo.

EXHIBIT OVERVIEW
Mammoth bones

For millions of years mammoths and mastodons roamed the Earth, great beasts weighing as much as 8 tons and bearing tusks up to 16 feet long. They were wonderfully successful creatures of the Ice Age who served as food and artistic inspiration for ancient peoples. But despite their size and ability to adapt to different habitats, these early cousins of the elephant eventually went extinct – leaving behind an abundant fossil record.

Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age, developed by The Field Museum in Chicago, brings these animals to life by exploring their interactions with one another and with ancient humans. The exhibition helps adults and children delve deep into the Ice Age world by re-creating it via walk-through dioramas, artifacts and hands-on activities, such as a virtual cave painting game.

The exhibition features life-size, fleshed-out Ice Age creatures, as well as skeletons, skulls and tusks. Rare and evocative objects on display include some of the oldest art in existence and fossils of mammoth relatives, such as dwarf mammoths. The exhibition also details the scientific methods used to study beasts from the past as well as their surviving relatives – modern-day elephants.

LEARN ABOUT LYUBA

Meet Lyuba

42,000-year-old baby mammoth has skin, eyes … even hair

In 2007, a Siberian reindeer herder made a fantastic discovery – an intact baby woolly mammoth, preserved in the frozen Arctic soil for some 42,000 years. The baby mammoth was named Lyuba (pronounced Lee-OO-bah) after the herder’s wife. The discovery made headlines across the globe. This exhibition is Lyuba’s United States debut.

Lyuba is preserved in remarkable condition. Wrinkles still crease her skin and taste buds dot her tongue. Her eyes and internal organs retain their original shape. Tiny hairs are visible on parts of her body and tail. She’s about 110 pounds and 45 inches long.

How did she die?
Lyuba was only about 30 days old when she died of suffocation after being trapped in mud along a riverbank. While she struggled to free herself, her trunk filled with silt and her body was quickly covered by sediment. Soft tissue and tusk samples suggest she was healthy at the time of her death.

How do we know so much about her?
After she was found, an international team of scientists performed DNA analysis, an MRI and an autopsy. They used computerized X-ray tomography and microsampling techniques to explore her anatomy and physiology. Lyuba was, by far, the best-preserved specimen they had ever seen. She is giving researchers rare insights into the lives and habits of her extinct species.

Why is she so intact?
One of the most puzzling questions about Lyuba was how she remained so well preserved, even though she lay exposed almost a year before discovery. Daniel Fisher, a University of Michigan paleontologist and curator of this exhibition, provided the answer. Fisher found Lyuba had been preserved by lactic-acid-producing bacteria that colonized her body after death. This microbial process “pickled” her soft tissues and worked, along with freezing, to keep Lyuba in excellent condition.

Learn more

  • Download this National Geographic story about Lyuba
  • The museum shop sells a one-hour Lyuba documentary, Waking the Baby Mammoth, on DVD.

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