She then got mud stuck in her airways and tried to blow it out of her trunk. Because the nasal passages narrow in the trunk, she only managed to get the mud stuck even more.
"It moved straight into her trachea and bronchi and by that time she was too exhausted and couldn't clear her airway," Fisher told Live Science. "It was just a matter of minutes before she would have lost consciousness."
Khroma was also healthy when she died, with a belly full of undigested breast milk that looked like fresh yogurt.
Because Khroma was partly eaten, researchers have to do more speculation to understand her death, Fisher said.
But Khroma had a broken back and mud from a fast-flowing river in her trachea.
So it's possible Khroma was standing on a riverbank when it collapsed, leading her to fall, break her back and be buried in a slurry of mud that she inhaled while trying to extricate herself, Fisher said.
In addition to painting a grim picture of the mammoth calves' last moments, the research also provides some insights into how they developed.