Diamond mining in Siberia unearths some spectacular finds. Exploration in that hostile terrain has gone on for decades against enormous odds. Identifying volcanic kimberlite there in the mid 1950s resulted in the opening of several enormous mines in the harsh permafrost.

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For seven months of the year, Siberian ground is frozen solid. But the impenetrable terrain morphs into sludge during their short summers, creating another mining conundrum. By the mid 60’s, one mine alone was turning out 10M carats per year; making all those challenges worth it.

To access the diamonds below the earth in Siberia, miners have to dig deep; really deep. So it should surprise no one that they turn up unexpected finds from time to time. After all, this relatively untouched region of the earth harbors proof of early planet formation.

Still, eyebrows raised pretty high in mid-August when Siberian miners dug up a peculiar looking mummified mammal from the diamond rich district of Udachny in the Mirninsky region of the Sakha Republic. Its sandy terrain is likely responsible for the outstanding preservation. It was so well-mummified that its fur and part of the brain was still intact.

An excavator loads a dump truck with diamond ore at the base of the open pit at the Udachny diamond mine operated by OAO Alrosa in Udachny, Russia, on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013. (Photo by Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)
An excavator loads a dump truck with diamond ore at the base of the open pit at the Udachny diamond mine operated by OAO Alrosa in Udachny, Russia, on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013. (Photo by Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)

 

Still no one quite knows what this oddity was during its life. Experts are suggesting that it could be a young wolverine type carnivore. These small, wolf-like mammals with strong jaws and large canine teeth still exist today, and are the state animal of Michigan. Other opinions call the creature either a pine marten or a sable, which are small members of the weasel family.

The Siberian Times reports that the little mummy will be taken to the regional capital of Yakutsk for further examination.

The location of this discovery has diamondiferous sands dating back to the broad Mesozoic Era, about 252 to 66 million years back. The period also referred to as the ‘Middle Life’ era on earth expanded rapidly, boasting other mammals like giant reptiles and dinosaurs, besides new plant species spreading out across the earth.

The curious creature roaming the diamond sands of Siberia is pretty old—maybe not as early as the sands themselves. But thanks to the unique geology of the Russian permafrost, it could be pretty ancient. It’s not the first such unexpected find in the area however. Last year in Sakha Republic a remarkably preserved 12 thousand-year-old puppy was found. While Russians wait to see what scientific conclusions are revealed with this recent discovery, they go back to the digging up what they do best.

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Siberian diamonds incidentally are considered some of the clearest in the world. ♦


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