Mammoth Blood Found, Cloning Extinct Species May Soon Be Possible

The blood of an extinct Siberian woolly mammoth has been found, with the photographic evidence provided to Wednesday’s The Siberian Times. The Ice Age era mammal, related to our modern elephants, vanished about 4,000 years ago, but preserved specimens are rather frequently discovered in the retreating glaciers of once-frozen Russian Siberia.

Entire animals, including specimens that still have preserved flowers and other items in their stomachs, have been found flash-frozen in Siberia before. On rare occasions, the meat has been found preserved so well that it’s safe enough to eat — although in this case the fresh meat is going to be studied by scientists, not consumed by hungry Siberians.

What really makes the new find striking is that the 10,000-year old female’s blood had flowed into frozen ice cavities, where it was still fresh enough to flow again when the team broke into the pockets of ice.

At the time of the discovery on Novosibirsk Islands, the temperature was less than 10 degrees Celcius — about 14 degrees Fahrenheit and comfortably below freezing. That makes it doubly odd that the blood could still flow.

Semyon Grigoriev, head of the Museum of Mammoths, said, “It can be assumed that the blood of mammoths had some cryo-protective properties.”

According to The Siberian Times, the Yakutsk, Russia team has already partnered with South Korean scientists who plan to study the blood, learn the DNA sequencing, and eventually clone living specimens of the long-extinct beasts.

It might seem like a prequel to Jurassic Park, but foreign experts will be allowed to examine the specimen in July and verify the find for skeptics in the rest of the world.

The Russian and South Korean team had previously tried to clone the mammoth in September 2012, but the specimen they used then didn’t have enough living cells. The effort failed.

woolly mammoths alive

The new find may put fresh blood into the Siberian woolly mammoth cloning effort.

[Woolly mammoths in Europe as they might have looked in life painting by Mauricio Antón and the 2008 Public Library of Science via Creative Commons]

[blood in test tube photo by luchschen via Shutterstock]