2022 Treadstone Gold's Woolly Mammoth Discovery on Eureka Creek, Yukon, Canada
Discovery of Mummified Baby Woolly Mammoth
On June 21, 2022, an employee of Treadstone Gold discovered a mummified baby woolly mammoth on the Eureka Creek within Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin Traditional Territory. The crew immediately stopped excavation and reported the discovery. Canadian experts have confirmed that it is the most complete mummified woolly mammoth found in North America and one of the most significant paleontological discoveries in the world. Nun cho ga is the name given to the mammoth calf by the elders from the Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin. It means "big baby animal" in the Hän language.
Initial examination shows that Nun cho ga was a young female woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) who might have died when she was just over one month old. She lived over 30,000 years ago during the ice age when woolly mammoths, wild horses, steppe bison, lions and giant short-faced bears roamed the cold, dusty Yukon hills. The scientific research, together with the traditional teachings of the Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin, will reveal incredible details about the last moments of Nun cho ga's life.
Discovery of Nun Cho Ga
While working on the Treadstone Gold claim for the second season, Travis Delawski, a first-year employee, discovered Nun cho ga on June 21st, at about 50 to 60ft levels into the permafrost. Travis was operating an excavator with a ripping attachment, cutting into the bottom of the frozen wall. He saw what seemed like the skull of an ancient bison and jumped out of his machine to take a closer look. He realized it was the head of an animal with skin, eyes, and a trunk! Travis contacted the foreman and owner, Brian McCaughan, by two-way radio, reporting, "I found a body!". Brian rushed to the scene and immediately contacted Dr. Grant Zazula, the Yukon paleontologist in Whitehorse.
Preservation of Nun Cho Ga
The baby mammoth was recovered in two pieces, first the top half and then the bottom half. Dr. Grant Zazula advised the Treadstone crew on how to preserve the mammoth as best they could until he dispatched a field crew. The Treadstone crew wet blankets and tarped the baby while Jeff Bond, from the Yukon Geological Survey, travelled from Dawson City to recover the mammoth.
Significance of the Discovery
The discovery of Nun cho ga is a momentous occasion for the Treadstone crew, the Yukon government, and the Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin First Nation. There has been a lot of activity, excitement, learning, and appreciation going on at Treadstone's mine site. The Yukon government and Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin First Nation plan to work together over the next month. A field crew will be at Treadstone's camp collecting mud samples and other bones in the area, both old and new. The Treadstone crew will be careful, keep their eyes open and treat Nun Cho Ga's resting place with respect. Dr. Grant Zazula has advised them to "buckle up" and enjoy the journey. "It will be meaningful and so educational for all of us."