Scientists want to create a geological monument in Yakutia
20.08.2019

Scientists at TSU and North-Western State Medical University named after I.I. Mechnikov want the status of a geological natural monument assigned to the Yakut natural boundary Yunyugen - to preserve the unique location of the mammoth fauna. The initiative came after a joint expedition with the M. K. Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University Mammoth Museum.

The Yunyugen tract, located in the Yana River basin, is called the “mammoth cemetery”. There, in the permafrost, a huge amount of the remains of mammoths, bison, woolly rhinos, and other ancient animals has been preserved. Some of these remains were preserved along with soft tissues: wool, tendons, muscles, and horn covers.

- Mammoth tusks are being actively mined at this place, and all other remains just lie on the ground, - says Sergey Leshchinsky, head of the TSU Laboratory of Continental Ecosystems of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic. Thousands of samples can be used in museums and tens of thousands are interesting for scientific research.

In particular, the pathologies that TSU paleontologists study in the context of the hypothesis that the cause of the mass extinction of mammoths was geochemical stress caused by mineral starvation due to serious environmental changes on the planet, are visible on many bones found in Yunyugen.

Also, coprolites of mammoths, bison, and horses, and rodent burrows with seedlings for the winter, are well preserved in Yunyugen. Scientists gathered these samples for further research.

After the fact-finding expedition to Yunyugen, scientists at TSU and North-Western State Medical University intend to achieve assignment of the status of a natural geological monument to the tract. According to the experts, there are many reasons for this.

- Yunyugen is a unique accumulation of the remains of fossil animals of the Pleistocene period. Each of these findings could contribute to the study of ancient ecosystems. But the extraction of mammoth tusks is going on in a barbaric way: workers simply erode the permafrost with pumps. In a few years, at this rate, this place will be destroyed for science. Therefore, it is necessary to create a specially protected area and constantly monitor its condition, -said Artemy Goncharov, head of the Laboratory of Functional Genomics and Proteomics of Microorganisms at the Institute of Experimental Medicine, professor at the Department of Epidemiology of the North-West State Medical University.