St Ives Norris Museum mystery mammoth hair inspires exhibition

Woolly mammoth hair and image of mammoth Image copyright Chris Thomas/SPL
Image caption The hair, found in an envelope, is thought to be from a mammoth that lived about 40,000 years ago

A clump of mammoth hair discovered in an envelope at a Cambridgeshire museum has inspired a new exhibition.

The hair was found during a stocktake at the Norris Museum in an envelope marked: "From St Petersburg Museum."

Assistant Richard Carter said they had no idea how it arrived but thought "perhaps someone snipped a bit off during a visit to Russia".

The hair was verified as genuine mammoth by Dr Chris Thomas, a former research scientist.

The exhibition started earlier, at the museum in St Ives.

The envelope containing the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) hair is thought to date from the late 19th or early 20th Century.

Image copyright Norris Museum
Image caption It is not known how the envelope came to be among items in the museum
Image copyright Chris Thomas
Image caption Dr Chris Thomas examined the hair under a microscope
Image copyright Chris Thomas
Image caption He confirmed it came from a mammoth, likely to be the 40,000-year-old specimen at the Russian museum

On the back of the envelope is written: "This mammoth was found whole in perfect condition in an iceberg in Siberia."

It is thought to have come from an animal that roamed the Siberian plains about 40,000 years ago.

Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Mammoths roamed the Cambridgeshire countryside until about 10,000 years ago

The exhibition, put together by Dr Thomas and the Norris's assistant curator Gilly Vose, runs until 18th April.

It includes the hair and envelope, photographs of the hair under a microscope, a replica scale model of a mammoth and a number of tusks and teeth, all found within Cambridgeshire.

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