Highly preserved mammoth presents scientists with blood sample

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Friday, May 31, 2013

A woolly mammoth on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
Image: Kevin Burkett.

An extremely well preserved woolly mammoth has been found by Russian scientists in Siberia, announced Wednesday.

The adult female was found with blood preserved still intact in ice cavities. When palaeontologists excavated the animal, blood flowed from the space below the animal's abdomen.

The discovery was made on the Lyakhovsky Islands by scientists from the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk, who estimated the animal's age at 10,000 years.

The temperature of the ice at time of excavation was estimated between −7 °C (19 °F) and −10 °C (14 °F). This has led scientists to believe mammoth blood may contain some cryoprotectant, making it resistant to freezing.

Scientists are currently discussing the possibility of resurrecting extinct animals from their DNA. Along with blood samples taken from the site, scientists also discovered well-preserved muscle tissue described as the color of fresh red meat.

The scientists hypothesise the mammoth had fallen into a swamp or water, where she was trapped and eventually died. The remains are to be transported to Yakutsk and tested to ensure there are no dangerous diseases present.

Researchers said this mammoth is the best-preserved ever discovered.