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Preserved baby mammoth unveiled in London

The world's most complete preserved mammoth has been unveiled at the Natural History Museum in London.

It is the first time the baby woolly mammoth, found in Siberia by a reindeer herder in 2007, has been shown in western Europe.

She is little larger than a dog and has been nicknamed Lyuba.

The animal is thought to have died 42,000 years ago while just a month old, and is the most comprehensive mammoth skeleton ever found.

Experts believe that the female mammoth's body was buried in wet clay and mud which then froze, preserving it until she was found by Yuri Khudi and his sons while they were searching for firewood along the banks of the Yuribei River.

Lyuba is one of a number of mammoths to have been found close to the northwest Siberian river in recent years.

Until recently, Lyuba – named after Khudi's wife, whose name is Russian for 'love' – was held by the Shemanovsky Museum in Russia, but will go on display to the public in London on Friday.

Professor Adrian Lister, a mammoth researcher at the Natural History Museum, exclaimed "she's beautiful" as he opened the lid of the crate used to transport Lyuba from northern Russia.

He said: 'It was an emotional experience to be face to face with a baby mammoth from the Ice Age. I'm so thrilled that our visitors will be able to experience that too."

The exhibition, named Mammoths: Ice Age Giants, will be open to the public from Friday.

Visitors will be shown how these animals were some of the largest creatures to ever walk the Earth, how they evolved, and what were the possible causes of their extinction.

The collection also features a spiral-tusked Columbian mammoth and a dwarf mammoth, as well as other prehistoric giants such as the mastodon, sabre-toothed cat and giant cave bear.

Prof Lister said: "This exhibition promises a rare glimpse into the ice age world of mammoths and their relatives through life-sized models, original skeletons and fossils and of course Lyuba, the best preserved and most complete mammoth ever discovered."

Visitors to the three-month-long exhibition will also have the opportunity to try out life as a mammoth by tusk jousting, trunk swinging and feeling the weight of the hundreds of kilos of food a mammoth ate each day.

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