A 400-year-old chamois, a member of the goat-antelope species, was found buried in the snow by a champion skier in the Italian Alps.
Hermann Oberlechner said he was on a six-hour hike in Val Aurina when he stumbled upon the perfectly preserved carcass.
“Only half of the animal’s body was exposed from the snow,” Oberlechner said in a statement. “The skin looked like leather, completely hairless; I had never seen anything like it. I immediately took a photo and sent it to the park ranger, together we then notified the Department of Cultural Heritage.”
(Credit: Eurac Research)
The mummified chamois was taken to a lab for further observation and study, which was a challenge, given where it was found. It was found at 3,200 meters (10,500 feet) elevation and was only spotted by Oberlechner because ice had started to recede.
The Alpine Army Corps was involved in the removal of the chamois mummy, with the infantry building a special case to encase it. From there, the mummy was airlifted by helicopter and flown to Eurac Research’s conservation lab in Bolzano, Italy.
“Our goal is to use scientific data to develop a globally valid conservation protocol for ice mummies,” Albert Zink, Director of the Institute for Mummy Studies at Eurac Research, added in the statement. “This is the first time an animal mummy has been used in this way.”
The mummified goat is not the only frozen discovery in the Italian Alps in recent memory.
In July 2018, researchers learned the last meal of Ötzi the Iceman was particularly well-balanced, finding remnants of wild goat meat, the meat of red deer, whole wheat seeds and traces of fern leaves and spores in his corpse.
In October 2019, experts uncovered several details about his final journey, prior to his death around 3,300 B.C.