Schoolgirl finds 41,000-year-old lemming buried in permafrost

The lemming had ‘broken thighs’ but its not known how it fell to its death (Picture: Alexey Lopatin et al)

The preserved remains of the world’s oldest lemming have been found in Siberian permafrost by a school student.

Angelina Sadovnikova was just 11 years old when she came across the mummified Pleistocene rodent under a river cliff.

The Ice Age herbivore was found with broken thigh bones and is thought to have to have fallen to its death.

Experts say its a myth that lemmings rush to jump off cliffs, but the reason behind this furry critter’s demise is unknown.

Angelina is now 16, but her discovery and pictures of the rodent have only just been released by the Russian Academy of Sciences following a detailed investigation.

A radiography scan of the prehistoric rodent (Picture: Alexey Lopatin et al)
Experts say its a myth that lemmings run to jump off cliffs (Picture: Dorling Kindersley RF)
A computer model of the anterior part of the old rodent’s skull (Picture:  Alexey Lopatin et al)

She came across the the creature’s carcass when walking with her mother on the bank of the steep-sided Tirekhtyakh River, close to the Arctic Circle.

Her discovery was passed to biology professors Nikita Solomonov and Vyacheslav Rozhnov who began researching the well-preserved remains.

Remains of woolly mammoths, rhinos, wolves,cave lions and puppies have been found preserved in permafrost in the past.

Radiocarbon dating revealed the Siberian brown lemming to be more than 41,300 years old and six and a half inches in length.

The lemming still has fur on its back, sides and abdomen but the is bald on the head.

X-ray analysis showed all its bones, including the skull, were well preserved, although the animal’s internal organs did not last.

A new study following the discovery said: ‘The finding of the Tirekhtyakh lemming is of great importance for understanding the evolution of this most important group of mammals in the Arctic communities.’





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