Saturday, 25 April 2015
Russian scientists made the discoveries during the excavation of a 50-60-year-old female animal on the Lyakhovsky Islands, in the Arctic seas of the country’s north-east.
Woolly mammoths, which look similar to elephants, are thought to have died out between 10,000 and 4,000 years ago.
Previous discoveries of well-preserved woolly mammoth remains have resulted in some scientists raising the possibility of Jurassic Park-style cloning of the animals.
‘We were really surprised to find mammoth blood and muscle tissue,’ scientist Semyon Grigoriev told the Siberian Times.
The head of the Museum of Mammoths of the Institute of Applied Ecology of the North at the North Eastern Federal University said the finding was unique.
‘The approximate age of this animal is about 10,000 years old. It has been preserved thanks to the special conditions, due to the fact that it did not defrost and then freeze again.
‘We suppose that the mammoth fell into water or got bogged down in a swamp, could not free herself and died.
‘Due to this fact the lower part of the body, including the lower jaw, and tongue tissue, was preserved very well.
‘The upper torso and two legs, which were in the soil, were gnawed by prehistoric and modern predators and almost did not survive.’
Despite this, he hailed it as ‘the best preserved mammoth in the history of palaeontology’.
When the blood flowed from ice cavities below the belly of the animal the temperature was 10C below zero and it was placed in a test tube and sent for analysis.
‘Yet it is great luck that the blood preserved and we plan to study it carefully,’ said Mr Grigoriev.
‘For now our suspicion is that mammoth blood contains a kind of natural anti-freeze.’
Most of the scientific community is highly sceptical that any mammoth cloning project could succeed.
Genetic material still present in ancient remains would be so degraded as to make the task impracticable, experts say.
The Roslin Institute, famous for cloning Dolly the sheep, has published some thoughts on the possibilities of bringing extinct species back to life.