A “Bunched-Up Fur Ball” Found By A Miner In Canada Is Actually A 30,000-Year-Old Squirrel

Humans and animals alike have always found weird things to find and sometimes collect.

Dogs have found many things from mystery eggs and endangered turtles to a woman’s lost wedding ring at a beach. Humans, the curious creatures we are, sometimes go out of their way to find unique items, like this man who went metal detecting in a regional park and found a large rock that is unexpectedly more valuable than a gold nugget.

Scientists in particular are no strangers when it comes to discovering ice age relics.

The Yukon is a territory in Canada that has permafrost, and permafrost is said to have the ability to perfectly preserve anything. The Yukon is also where scientists have found a lot of preserved animal remains that came from the ice age. Unfortunately, these finds are due to permafrost thawing which is a result of climate change. (But we’re not here to talk about this depressing subject right now.)

A miner found a mysterious fur ball in the Klondike gold fields, a part of the Yukon that has been covered in permafrost since the ice age, back in 2018. However, this ‘fur ball’ apparently is something much more than that.

“Today we’re excited to share a few pictures of a ~30,000 year old arctic ground squirrel that was discovered at Hester Creek in the Klondike Gold Fields, within the Traditional Territory of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in near Dawson City, Yukon,” posted the Facebook page of Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre.

“It’s amazing to think that this little guy was running around the Yukon several thousand years ago,” they said.

Believe it or not, this preserved species is actually still alive today!

PHOTO: Flickr/National Park Service, Alaska Region

“I study bones all the time, and they’re exciting, they’re really neat,” Grant Zazula, a Yukon government paleontologist, said in an interview with CBC News. “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.”

The ‘fur ball’ was given the name Hester, based on where it was found. Zazula wanted to get a better look at Hester, but unfurling it was too risky for the scientists, so they opted for an X-ray.

“We could see that it was in great condition and it was just curled up like it was sleeping,” Veterinarian Jess Heath said. The X-ray photos can be seen in the Facebook post above.

The scientists assume that the squirrel probably died while it was hibernating, but they don’t know what exactly killed it.

Hester is now part of the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre’s Ice Age Animals exhibit.

Can I also add that people have been reacting to this story by using Scrat, the squirrel from the Ice Age movies? While they are both squirrels, Scrat is actually a saber-toothed squirrel. It’s technically wrong, but it’s funny nonetheless.

People, Pets & Planet

Help where it’s needed most at GreaterGood for free!