The discovery of a well-preserved juvenile woolly mammoth suggests that ancient humans “stole” mammoths from hunting lions.
Scientists completed an initial assessment of the animal, known as Yuka, in March this year.
Wounds indicate that both lions and humans may have been involved in the ancient animal’s death.
“Already there is dramatic evidence of a life-and-death struggle between Yuka and some top predator, probably a lion,” says leading mammoth expert, Daniel Fisher, professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Michigan.
“Even more interesting, there are hints that humans may have taken over the kill at an early stage.”
If further investigation by Mr Buigues, Professor Fisher and fellow scientists at the Sakha Academy of Sciences in Yakutsk confirms this analysis, it will be the first carcass to show signs of interaction with ancient humans found in this part of the world.
By analysing the teeth and tusks, the team estimate Yuka was about two and a half years old when it died.