Perfectly preserved woolly mammoth, complete with liquid blood, discovered in Arctic
MOSCOW — Russian researchers say they have discovered a perfectly preserved woolly mammoth carcass with liquid blood on a remote Arctic island, fueling hopes of cloning the Ice Age animal.
They say the frozen remains of a female mammoth were so well-preserved that blood was found in ice cavities when they were broken up.
Semyon Grigoryev, the head of the Mammoth Museum who led the expedition, said Thursday the carcass was preserved because its lower part was stuck in pure ice. He said the find could provide scientific material for cloning a mammoth.
Wooly mammoths are thought to have died out about 10,000 years ago (though recent discoveries in Siberia have implied they may have been around more recently than that). Scientists have deciphered much of the animals’ genetic code from their hair, and some believe it’s possible to clone them if living cells are found.
Acording to io9, the blood may have “cryo-protective” properties. Something predicted by Canadian scientists in 2010:
“It can be assumed that the blood of mammoths had some cryo-protective properties,” noted [Semyon Grigoriev, head of the Museum of Mammoths of the Institute of Applied Ecology of the North at the North Eastern Federal University]. Mammoth blood, it would appear, contains a kind of anti-freeze. This is consistent with work done by Canadian geneticists who in 2010 showed that mammoth hemoglobin releases its oxygen much more readily at cold temperatures than that of modern elephants.
Based on initial estimates, the mammoth was probably about 50 or 60 years old when it died. The team that found the mammoth estimates the animal was frozen in the ice for between 10,000 and 15,000 years. It’s not known if clonable material has been recovered; there is a report expected from the find in July.