A 40,000-Year-Old Extinct Well Preserved Baby Horse Has Been Unearthed in Siberia

Scientists in Siberia have made an extraordinary find: the fossilised remains of an extinct baby Palaeolithic horse, in almost perfect condition.

Dug out from the permafrost in Siberia's Batagaika crater - AKA the "Doorway to the Underworld" - the tiny colt is so beautifully preserved, it looks like it could be sleeping. But the equine died a long time ago - between 30,000 and 40,000 years, during the Upper Palaeolithic.

Paleontologists found the mummified body of the young horse inside the 328-foot-deep (100 meters) Batagaika crater during an expedition to Yakutia in eastern Siberia. The researchers announced the mummy's discovery on Aug. 11, The Siberian Times reported.

Remarkably, the body is whole and undamaged and measures about 39 inches (98 centimeters) tall at the shoulder, according to The Siberian Times. Scientists collected samples of the foal's hair and tissue for testing, and the researchers will investigate the animal's bowel contents to determine the young horse's diet, Semyon Grigoryev, director of the Mammoth Museum in Yakutsk, Russia, told The Siberian Times.

The researchers took samples of hair, liquid, biological fluids and soil samples from where the foal was found, to conduct a more extensive battery of tests, including a full autopsy to determine how it died.

Interestingly, there were no visible wounds on its body.

"Experts that took part in the expedition came up with a version that the foal could have drowned after getting into some kind of a natural trap," explained Grigory Savvinov of North-Eastern Federal University.

In addition to determining this cause of death, the autopsy will tell the scientists more about how the foal lived. They plan, for instance, to analyse the contents of its stomach to find out what it ate.

The permafrost is an incredible resource for learning more about life in the Ice Age, like a deep freezer that stores a snapshot of the past. Earlier this year, scientists in Siberia uncovered a prehistoric lion cub in incredible condition, so young that it didn't even have teeth yet.

In addition to the foal, the research expedition recovered the rare skeleton of a mammoth, complete with soft tissues, in good condition.