AN amazing 40,000 year old horse has been found perfectly preserved in a Siberian crater nicknamed the “Mouth of Hell”.

The three month old dark brown foal dating from the Palaeolithic era is described as “unique in the world”.

The animal had been preserved in permafrost since the Ice Age and is expected to give scientists a mass of new information about the evolution of horses.

It was found during an expedition to the Verkhoyansky district of Yakutia and was dug from its grave some 100ft beneath the original surface of the depression.

A picture released by the team shows the young horse encased in mud but one account said that its legs have ‘zebra-like’ stripes.

The foal was found at the Batagai depression in the Siberian region of Yakutia - a sprawling territory famous for the discovery of remains of extinct woolly mammoths.

Head of the world famous Mammoth Museum in regional capital Yakutsk, Semyon Grigoryev, said: “The foal was approximately three months old (when it died).

“The unique find was made in the permafrost of Batagai depression. The foal was completely preserved by permafrost.

“The extra value of the unique find is that we obtained samples of soil layers where it was preserved, which means we will be able to restore a picture of the foal’s environment.”

The foal lived between 30,000 and 40,000 years ago and its discovery will give scientists a unique insight into the development of the species.

"We will report the exact time when it lived after studying the soil samples," said the scientist, reported The Siberian Times.
"The foal has completely preserved dark-brown hair, its tail and mane, as well as all internal organs. There are no visible wounds on its body.

"This is the first find in the world find of a pre-historic horse of such a young age and with such an amazing level of preservation."

Batagai is a tadpole-shaped depression or "megaslump" two-thirds of a mile long and 900 yards wide.

Locals in the remote Yakutia region see the spectacular crater as superstitious, and know it as the "gateway to the underworld".

In fact, this gash in the tundra was caused by the Soviets, who cleared forest here, but it is now being enlarged and shaped by climate change, according to scientists.

The find was located by scientists from the North-Eastern Federal University and Kindai University in Japan.