Miners working in Siberia have recently stumbled across the carcass of what seems to be an ancient, hitherto-unidentified animal. Discovered in the Mirninsky region of Sakha Republic in the northeastern corner of Russia, the mummified mammal has garnered a lot of interest from across the globe.
While the miners themselves believe it could be a new dinosaur species, researchers are of the opinion that the strange, bear-shaped creature could very well be a young wolverine with big canine teeth and remarkably strong jaws. Some scientists have also come forward to state that the prehistoric animal might be a smallish, ferret-like organism, belonging to the pine marten or sable species of the weasel family.
According to the researchers, the fossilized creature possesses a very narrow body and powerful, bone-crushing skull that might have been deformed during death or mummification. Given its physical attributes, it is likely a member of the Mustelidae family, which includes carnivorous mammals like minks, weasels, otters, wolverines, badgers, ferrets, martens and others.
Uncovered in the diamond-rich mines of Udachny, the mummified mammal will be soon brought to Yakutsk, the capital of Sakha Republic, where it will be undergo a barrage of tests and analyses. Interestingly, the diamond-yielding sands of Udachny actually date back to the Mesozoic Era, extending from around 252 to approximately 66 million years ago.
According to scientists, this period in history is also referred to as the ‘Middle Life’ era, because it was during this time that our planet witnessed a drastic diversification life resulting in the appearance of a wide variety of dinosaurs, giant reptiles, plant species as well as mammals. Made up of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, the era came to an abrupt end with two massive episodes of mass extinction.
It is important, however, to note that the newly-unearthed animal is quite possibly a lot younger than Udachny’s diamondiferous sands. As pointed out by the researchers, the creature was preserved in excellent conditions, thanks to the unique properties of the Siberia permafrost.
Last year, for instance, archaeologists discovered a pair of 12,000-year-old extinct cave lion cubs that had been mummified in the Russian permafrost, near the region of Yakutia.