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Miners discovered a bizarre lump of frozen fur, but it turned out to be a creature from the ice age.
The mysterious blob was discovered deep within a mine in the Yukon territory in northwest Canada.
Palaeontologists from the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre identified the peculiar bundle as a 30,000-year-old Arctic ground squirrel, which experts have named "Hester".
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Its believed that the Arctic-age creature had curled into a tight ball while it was hibernating, and froze to death.
According to The Times, the animal was discovered in 2018 at Hester Creek in the Klondike gold fields, near Dawson City, a former goldrush outpost close to the Alaskan border.
The specimen will now go on display to the public at the centre in Whitehorse, Canada. The publication added that the mummified squirrel will go on display alongside a preserved black-footages ferret found in the same region.
Other well-preserved Ice Age creatures discovered in this area include giant beavers, a baby mammoth and a wolf pup.
Arctic ground squirrels survived after the Ice Age and still inhabit Yukon and Alaska today.
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The Yukon Government wrote on their official Facebook page: “It’s amazing to think that this little guy was running around the Yukon several thousand years ago"
Grant Zazula, a Yukon government palaeontologist, told CBC News: “It’s not quite recognisable until you see these little hands and these claws, and you see a little tail, and then you see ears,
“I study bones all the time and they’re exciting, they’re really neat. But when you see an animal that’s perfectly preserved, that’s 30,000 years old, and you can see its face and its skin and its hair and all that, it’s just so visceral. It brings it so to life.”
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Harry Baker told Live Science, that Arctic ground squirrels look “more like modern-day gophers than most squirrels,” thanks to their flat ears, thin tails and tendency to stand on their back two feet.
Researchers used a X-ray machine to scan the animal and reveal a remarkably intact skeleton — scientists believe the animal was young but couldn't prove how it died.
These rodents typically reach about 15 inches long and weigh roughly 1.5 pounds. Though they often live to be nine years old, they can end up as a snack for carnivorous predators like grizzly bears, ermines and raptors, according to the Yukon government.
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