For 42,000 years, Lyuba, a baby woolly mammoth, was preserved almost perfectly intact, right down to her baby fat, in frigid Siberian river muck. Now released from her icy grave, she is being preserved in much the same manner as another famous Russian relic: the body of revolutionary Vladimir Lenin. It is a process called desiccation, removing all moisture from the body tissues.
Only Lyuba's hair and toenails were missing when reindeer herders found her carcass in 2007, washed out from the permafrost along Yuribey River in Siberia. Since then, her body, tiny tusks, internal organs and even the contents of her stomach have been a wellspring of scientific insight into mammoths and life in the ice ages.
"There is no question at this point it is the best-preserved, most complete wooly mammoth specimen ever found," said Daniel Fisher, a mastodon and mammoth expert at the University of Michigan and one of the first scientists to examine Lyuba.