Tucson Oddity: Replica a mammoth hit

2011-08-01T00:00:00Z 2011-08-01T08:59:52Z Tucson Oddity: Replica a mammoth hitCarmen Duarte Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 01, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Tunguska sports a hat and colorful lei over its cute, shaggy-haired body.

The replica of a 1-year-old woolly mammoth from the Museum of Natural History in Novosibirsk, Russia, is showing a lighter side.

It is an oddity all its own.

Its keepers brought it for a visit to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show in 2009, and it lives downtown in the Arizona Geological Survey Map and Bookstore at 416 W. Congress St., Suite 100. The bookstore sits within the state building complex.

Tunguska was not alone when it arrived at the state building. It was in the company of an excavated skeleton of an adult male woolly mammoth that stood at about 12 feet in the atrium of the state complex.

That piece sold for nearly $100,000 to a buyer from Alaska, recalled Michael Conway, chief of the Geologic Extension Service for the Arizona Geological Survey.

The proceeds went to the Museum of Natural History in Novosibirsk. "Monies from the sales help finance the museum and keep it going," Conway explained.

Tunguska, which has yak hair, is a museum-quality replica that is valued at $20,000 and can be seen on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the bookstore.

Some 15,000 years ago, a less-hairy mammoth - the Columbian mammoth - was common during the Ice Age in the San Pedro Valley in Southern Arizona. It roamed in herds and lived off coarse grasses.

Geologists, hunters, anglers, hikers, bird-watchers and history buffs are among the regular visitors to the bookstore who are fans of Tunguska.

Tunguska was given its name through a contest at the Tucson Festival of Books in 2010 on the University of Arizona Mall, where the woolly mammoth was a big hit among children and adults, Conway said.

Around 600 people participated in the contest, and many posed for photographs with the woolly mammoth, who was named after a meteoroid or comet that exploded above Siberia on June 30, 1908.

The powerful blast felled some 80 million trees, stripping them of their limbs and bark.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at 573-4104 or cduarte@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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