‘Lucky Lulu’ A Mammoth Addition To Museum

Just when you thought Seattle couldn’t get any more interesting, local residents have found a name for the mammoth tusk that was discovered in the heart of a Lake Union neighborhood earlier this year.

After a naming contest, the tusk was dubbed Lucky Lulu—“Lucky” because the find was just that, and “Lulu” for the abbreviated “Lake Union.” Lucky Lulu is now on display at the Burke Museum at a special display that opened last Saturday and will run through Oct. 29.

Mammoths went extinct thousands of years ago—but the sudden rise in mammoth fossil findings has created a buzz about potential for cloning and the creation of a sort of “Jurassic Park” of woolly mammoths and other long-extinct species.

The tusk, which scientists believe to be 20,000 to 60,000 years old, was found in a construction pit and pulled out of the ground on Feb. 14, according to an article by KOMO News. The tusk is about 8.5 feet long, which is relatively large but not as large as those belonging to a male mammoth. The longest tusk on record was over 15 feet.

And it isn’t just Seattle that is having fun with these findings. An entire female mammoth skeleton that is believed to be 1 million years old, according to The Huffington Post, was found in Serbia this month.

The mammoth, named Vika by scientists, was found in a Kostolac coal mine and was recently secured and moved in order to be properly examined. Yet another mammoth was discovered in Kostolac two years prior, and one more in northern Serbia in 1996.

All of the recent mammoth findings have caused a stir about cloning and the possibility of recreating mammoths today. A recent article published in The Week explored the possibility of potential cloning.

According to the article, there are about 24 species that scientists are considering bringing back to life via cloning, and the woolly mammoth is one of them.

“Scientists now say they’ve got enough blood and bone to bring back an Ice Age icon kicking and stomping into the modern age,” writes the Huffington Post. “All thanks to a remarkably well-preserved mammoth found in Siberia last summer.”

Even though it might be possible to recreate living mammoths, people have mixed feelings on whether or not it should be done. Students on the Seattle University campus had a lot to say about the environmental ethics of the situation, and brought up points about whether or not scientists have considered the full consequences of reintroducing a species that has been dead for thousands of years.

“That sounds very unnatural to me,” said Fallon Sullivan, a Seattle U student, when asked about the notion of cloning mammoths. “I think nature should do what nature does on its own.”

The idea that scientists are trying to bring an animal that has been dead for thousands of years back to life cause many to wonder why mammoths went extinct in the first place. Recently uncovered evidence gives insight as to what exactly happened to the great woolly mammoth.

It was the discovery of cervical ribs on mammoth skeletons that shed light on this mystery. Cervical ribs are extra bones that protrude from the skeleton, and are usually caused by a combination of genetic defect and poor nutrition. The fact that cervical ribs were so common in mammoths suggests that the downfall of the species was caused by a combination of inbreeding and harsh conditions.

No matter how mammoths went down or what these giant, shaggy creatures were really like when they roamed the earth, the possibility of cloning an extinct animal is an exciting one for many.

While scientists are at work on this project, get excited about mammoths by visiting the new exhibit at the Burke Museum. And don’t forget to say hi to Lulu. She is, after all, over a thousand years old.