GE Health donated time on their latest CT and MR systems for researchers from the Field Museum in Chicago to image the insides of an ancient baby mammoth. Lyuba, apparently one of the finest preserved mammoth specimens, was found by a Siberian reindeer herder three years ago. Now, thanks to modern technology, the researchers believe they know the cause of death of the mammoth. Lyuba is currently on view at the “Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age” exhibit at the Field Museum. Of course, there’s also something to be said for today’s tomography scanners with bore sizes that can accommodate a mammoth.
First, she was scanned on the Discovery CT750 HD, a 64-slice, high definition CT scanner. The images obtained from this scan allow scientists to learn more about her internal mineral deposits as well as her bone structure. Second, in an effort to see her entire skeletal structure from head to tail, she was imaged on the Innova® 4100IQ, a three-dimensional digital X-ray system. Finally, Lyuba was scanned on a high performance open MRI system, the Signa OpenSpeed EXCITE 0.7T, to view her soft tissue including the brain, liver and heart.
The scientists studying Lyuba also have been trying to determine what caused her death. As best as they can tell, she became trapped in a mud hole and inadvertently ingested mud. With the CT scan, the scientists now have evidence of silt in her trunk and in her lungs that confirm her cause of death as accidental suffocation. The cause of death is important because the scientists can reconfirm that Lyuba was not ill or poorly developed, factors that might negate her value as a normal mammoth specimen.
GE press release: Ice-age mammoth in space-age scan at GE Healthcare …
Exhibit: Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age