Russian scientists announced this week that they have found the body of a well-preserved fully-grown female mammoth trapped in the ice in Siberia. The creature has extremely well-preserved muscle tissue (colored a natural, fresh meat color) and shockingly, well-preserved, flowing blood. The mammoth was found on the Lyakhovsky Islands, the southernmost group of the New Siberian Islands in the Arctic seas of northeastern Russia.
The pools of blood were found in cavities underneath the belly of the beast. When researchers broke open the frozen cavities, to their surprise, blood began pouring out. They assume that mammoth blood has “cryo-protective properties”, a sort of natural anti-freeze property, which allowed it to remain liquid despite the 10C below zero temperatures.
The scientists estimate that the mammoth was about 60-years-old when it died around 10,000 – 15,000 years ago. They believe that the animal fell through the ice, and was mortally injured, while fleeing from predators.
“We suppose that the mammoth 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.”
“We decided that taking the whole carcass by helicopter to Yakutsk would be very dangerous and that we could lose invaluable material because of defrosting. We did not take the risk, and moved the rest of carcass – it weighs about a ton – from the islands to the mainland and put it into an icehouse.”
Three adult mammoth carcasses, including the latest discovery of the Yakut scientists, have been found in the history of paleontology. However, despite such a good state of preservation, the scientists have not yet found enough living cells for cloning the species and the repair of DNA is a very complex process that can take years.
It is believed that mammoths died off about 4,000 years ago. There is dispute among scientists about the exact cause of the extinction – climate change and hunting by man are frequently cited as causes.