A perfect storm of events has led to a once-in-a-lifetime discovery for a gold miner, a First Nation, a veteran paleontologist and a territory.
“I don’t know how to process it all right now, to be honest with you. It’s amazing,” said Dr. Grant Zazula, the Yukon government’s paleontologist.
A little after noon on June 21, National Indigenous People’s Day, a young miner working in Yukon’s Eureka Creek, south of Dawson City, was digging up muck using a front end loader when he struck something.
He stopped and called his boss who went to see him right away.
When he arrived, Treadstone Mining’s Brian McCaughan put a stop to the operation on the spot.
Within half an hour, Zazula received a picture of the discovery.
According to Zazula, the miner had made the “most important discovery in paleontology in North America.”
It was a whole baby woolly mammoth, the first one ever found in North America and, according to Zazula, only the second in the world.
“She has a trunk. She has a tail. She has tiny little ears. She has the little prehensile end of the trunk where she could use it to grab grass,” said Zazula.
“She’s perfect and she’s beautiful.”