It’s winter on the tundra.
Temperatures have plunged to 30 degrees below zero while harsh winds cut like a thousand knives across the stark landscape.
On a May morning in 2007, on the Yamal Peninsula in north-western Siberia, three young boys are standing with their father in the bitter cold.
Despite growing up in this wild and rugged place, the icy air still burns their skin, stings their eyes, as they gaze at an unusual object in the frozen ground.
It was the boys who spotted her first, mistaking her for a sick reindeer, perhaps from their own herd.
Instead, they found Lyuba, a 40,000-year-old baby mammoth, perfectly preserved in the permafrost.
The boys discovery would lead to one of the most important investigations in recent years, as Lyuba (meaning ‘Love’) became the best-preserved mammoth ever to be found.
By studying her, researchers have uncovered the secrets of this now extinct species, gathering up insights like a jeweler would rare diamonds, as to how mammoths once lived on earth.
This month, Lyuba’s story is set to be told in Edinburgh as part of ‘Mammoths of the Ice Age’, the first major exhibition of the New Year at the National Museum of Scotland.
Featuring an extensive collection of significant objects from the Ice Age, along with the details of Lyuba’s discovery, the exhibition will all be brought together for the first time in the UK.
From some of the oldest human art in existence to metre long woolly mammoth hair, the objects on show will also include preserved Columbian mammoth dung along with giant mammoth tusks and teeth.
The exhibition is currently under construction and will be built to be as interactive as possible, with visitors able to get hands-on with skull casts, teeth, tusks and fossil jaws to learn about early evolutionary adaptations.
Discovering how mammoths used their trunks and tusks, people will also be able to manipulate a real mechanical trunk to pick up objects and help a mammoth balance the weight of its tusks.
The exhibition delves into the social groups and behaviours of mammoths and mastodons, by comparing them with today’s elephants.
Created by The Field Museum in Chicago, the exhibition will open on January 23, and run until the end of April 2014.