A group of Russian scientists say they found the mammoth cells in remains located in Siberia in the far east of Russia. Yet their find has received a skeptical response with other paleontologists saying they doubted living cells had been found and some questioning why such an important discovery was not first announced in a scientific journal.
The mammoth cells were reportedly found roughly a hundred meters beneath the permafrost in the Ust-Yansky district of Sakha. The group who discovered the cells was part of an international expedition called Yana-2012 and was led by Northeast Federal University researcher Semyon Grigoryev. On Friday, Grigoryev said his team had found soft tissue, fatty tissue, fur, and bone marrow of mammoths.
Such cells could be used to clone the woolly mammoth, according to head of the Korean Sooam Biotech fund Huang Vu-Souk. However, a Russian Acacdemy scientist, the Institute of Paleontology’s Alexander Agadzhanyan, expressed doubt over whether the cells were truly ‘living.’ Agadzhanyan noted that living cells would be emitting carbon dioxide and processing nutrients and would thus be unlikely to survive in the permafrost:
“So far there haven’t been truly living cells in any of the mammoths [found] — a complete DNA sequence has not even been able to be obtained.”
Meanwhile, Agadzhanyan’s colleague Alexander Markov pointed out that a media announcement coming before the news appeared in a serious scientific journal was highly unusual for such a discovery.
Mammoth remains are often found in the permafrost of Russia’s obscure norhern regions. The giant beast went extinct about 4,500 years ago, but scientists have predicted that the animal will walk the earth again thanks to advances in cloning.