A team of scientists says blood recovered from the preserved carcass of a woolly mammoth is reviving hopes that the extinct creature could one day be cloned back into existence. “When we broke the ice beneath her stomach, the blood flowed out from there. It was very dark,” said Semyon Grigoryev, a Russian scientist who led the expedition that found the mammoth, in an interview with Agence France-Presse.
And Grigoryev says the well-preserved state of the mammoth offers new potential for cloning the creature, either directly through its DNA or in conjunction with another closely related mammal, such as an elephant.
“This find gives us a really good chance of finding live cells, which can help us implement this project to clone a mammoth,” he said. In 2012, North-Eastern Federal University, where Grigoryev works as a professor, enlisted the aid of controversial Sooam Biotech Research Foundation researcher Hwang Woo-Suk. In 2005, Woo-Suk made history by creating the world’s first cloned dog, but much of his work was later called into question or discredited.
The website phys.org reports that a Russian expedition discovered the mammoth carcass while conducting research in April on a remote island in the Arctic Ocean. Its body is said to have been preserved for about 10,000 to 15,000 years, roughly the time the mammoth is believed to have gone extinct. Interestingly, the scientists discovered only the lower half of the mammoth’s body. They believe it was submerged in water at the time of its death. After the water eventually froze, they believe that predators consumed the top half of the mammoth carcass.
In a gruesome but scientifically promising detail, Grigoryev claims that blood seeped from the carcass when his team made an incision in its body.
“This is the most astonishing case in my entire life. How was it possible for it to remain in liquid form? And the muscle tissue is also red, the color of fresh meat,” Grigoryev said.
The amazing ginger mammoth: Ice Age creature killed by cavemen is found perfectly preserved after 10,000 years. The shaggy ginger coat is just as bright as it was when the animal wandered over the ice-covered terrain. Its eyes, foot pads and even internal organs are all intact. Yet this is a young woolly mammoth – which lived more than 10,000 years ago. Its perfectly preserved body was discovered in the frozen ground of Siberia by tusk-hunters, who handed it over to scientists.
While many bones have been found before – so we have an idea of how the legendary creatures looked when they roamed the icy plains this is unique in being an almost entire frozen carcass. Experts believe it could yield a treasure trove of information from the past, not only about these creatures, but the early humans who lived alongside them during the Ice Age. The mammoth, which was three to four years old when it died, was found in the Ust-Yansky region of Yakutia, the remotest part of Siberia.
Most remarkable is the fact that it had two clean cuts on its back and several bones had been removed including its spine, skull, ribs and pelvis. The skull was found nearby. A long straight cut stretches from its head to the centre of its back, as well as an ‘unusual patterned opening’ on the right flank made of small serrations as if from a primitive saw-like tool. This skilful butchery could not have been the work of a predator such as a lion, and was probably the work of cavemen eking out a living during the Ice Age.
Although mammoths featured in cave paintings from the time, this is the first evidence that humans preyed on them in the days when ice sheets covered 40 per cent of the northern hemisphere.
The find suggests humans may have contributed to their extinction, before the creatures were finally wiped out in the great thaw ten millennia ago. The 6ft-long mammoth, nicknamed Yuka, appears to have escaped another predator at an earlier stage as it had a broken leg and other injuries which suggest an epic struggle. Daniel Fisher, professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Michigan and a world expert on mammoths, said: ‘There is dramatic evidence of a life-and-death struggle between Yuka and some top predator, probably a lion. Even more interesting, there are hints that humans may have taken over the kill at an early stage.
If you will live long enough you may be able to see a mammoth!