May 29, 2013
Well-Preserved Woolly Mammoth With Flowing Blood Discovered In Siberia
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
The dream of bringing woolly mammoths back to life has been a bit of a stretch. But a new discovery in Russia's Far East is providing the best chance of that becoming a reality yet.
Russian scientists say they discovered a female Siberian woolly mammoth carcass with flowing blood, in below freezing temperatures in Siberia. While performing the excavation, the team broke ice cavities with a pick pole and blood came running out. The scientists said not only did they find the blood in liquid form, but also some soft tissues.
“The fragments of muscle tissues, which we´ve found out of the body, have a natural red color of fresh meat. The reason for such preservation is that the lower part of the body was underlying in pure ice, and the upper part was found in the middle of tundra," said Semyon Grigoriev, the head of the expedition, the chairman of the Museum of Mammoths of the Institute of Applied Ecology of the North at the North Eastern Federal University (NEFU).
The scientists collected samples of the animal´s blood in tubes with a special preservative agent. They said the dark blood was found in ice cavities bellow the belly. The temperature at the time of excavation was 14 degrees Fahrenheit, so the scientists assume that the blood of mammoths have some cryoprotective properties.
“It was important to discover the mammoth in cold weather, because the unique discovery would melt in summer or autumn, and the priceless material for joint project 'Mammoth rebirth' of NEFU and Sooam foundation could disappear from thawing and wild animals”, said Grigoriev in a statement.
According to a report by RT, the mammoth was between 50 and 60 years old when it died around 10,000 to 15,000 years ago. The scientists believe the animal may have fallen through the ice while trying to escape predators.
Grigoriev told AFP that the discovery gives hope to researchers in their quest to try and bring the woolly mammoth back to life. He said previous mammoths have not had such well-preserved tissue.
In National Geographic's April issue, writer Carl Zimmer wrote about the concept of "de-extinction," which is bringing an extinct species like the woolly mammoth back to life. Zimmer said scientists would need to have living cells in order to recreate the extinct mammal. If scientists are unable to find living cells, then they would be able to try and extract the nucleus from the DNA of the animal and transfer it into an elephant egg.
Although the chances of actually being able to bring the dead back to life is seemingly impossible, the latest discovery in Siberia offers potentially the best chances yet.