The Siberian permafrost is thawing and giving up its dead — the remains of woolly mammoths that died over 10,000 years ago. Fifty tons of mammoth bones are turned up every year in Russia. A feature article in the LA Times notes:
Many of the populated areas have been picked clean, driving scavengers deeper and deeper into the wilderness in the hunt for bones.
The smoothest bones go to collectors and museums around the world; the less perfect samples are shipped to carving factories, especially in China, where they are refashioned into high-end household items and keepsakes.
Prior to the worldwide economic slump, quality mammoth bones were worth $700 per kilogram.