10/04/2012 05:54 pm ET Updated Oct 05, 2012

'Zhenya' Mammoth Find In North Russia, Biggest In 100 Years, Made By 11-Year-Old Evgeny Salinder

Though he's only 11, Evgeny Salinder has an impressive claim to fame -- especially if he ever wants to become a paleontologist.

While traipsing about in North Russia near the Sopkarga polar weather station, young Salinder stumbled across a well-preserved mammoth estimated to be 30,000 years old. The Moscow News reported that it's the biggest mammoth discovery since 1901, and the second-best preserved mammoth find in the history of paleontology.

The boy told his parents after finding the mammoth remains, who alerted authorities, according to

Scientists informally named the creature in honor of Evgeny's nickname, "Zhenya." Its official name, however, will be the Sopkarginsky mammoth, ABC News reported.

Experts speculated the mammoth, a male, died at the age of 15 or 16. Unlike many prior finds, Zhenya is not just a skeleton, but an entire body that weighs nearly half a ton. Scientists told that Zhenya has some well-preserved skin, meat, fat, and several organs.

Already scientists have learned the large "humps" on a mammoth's back are not bone, as previously believed. Instead, they appear to be large stores of fat that could help the animal survive brutal winters.

“It was first noticed in Paleolithic paintings, and everyone wondered why they had a hump,” explained Russian Academy of Sciences secretary Alexei Tikhonov to The Moscow News. “It was considered that it was because they had such large spinal bones. But it turns out that is not so, we have seen that this animal was excellently adapted to life in the north. It was storing large fat deposits for the winter.”

Itar-Tass reported that the mammoth will be handed off to the Taimyr history museum. Researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences will study the find at the Zoological and Paleontological Museums in Moscow and St. Petersburg.


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