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Second Life of Mammoth

  • Published in Society
10,000 years ago, an elderly mammoth was walking on the ice, when suddenly ice beneath it cracked and a gigantic body fell into water. Today, the lost animal has a chance to rise again.

The remains of an animal were extracted in May 2013 by the team of the Yakut Mammoth Museum on the island of Maly Lyakhovsky in the Arctic Ocean, between the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea. Apparently, the animal fell to a water body, froze and since then had not defrosted. Due to this the tissue of the mammoth was red, although usually in the samples of this age, they look like gray pieces of rock. Moreover, when one of the scientists accidentally struck the carcass with a pike, liquid of dark-red color began to flow. Taking into account the amazing integrity of the remains, the researchers hope to find cells with intact nuclei. If they succeed, it is possible that in 2045 mammoths will once again roam in the north of Yakutia, cloned from the dead she-mammoth.

The scientists who have studied the so-called Malolyakhovsky mammoth hypothesized that ancient giants could be cloned using it as a basis. According to the website of the North-Eastern Federal University, analyzing the carcass sections one could see clearly visible vessels filled with hemolyzed blood, and enlarged photographs clearly showed red blood cells and migrating cells-lymphocytes.

Upon their arrival in Yakutsk the researchers put the sample in a freezer of the Mammoth Museum.  At -17, it also did not freeze. Scientists theorize that perhaps the blood of mammoth had cryoprotective properties and helped to survive in cold winters.

-          Having examined the dark-brown liquid extracted from the carcass of a mammoth, we found out that it was not formed in the postmortem period, and indeed it is the hemolyzed blood, which has the nucleus of white blood cells and hemoglobin, - said Head of teaching and research clinical diagnostic laboratory of the NEFU Medical Clinic Viktoria Egorova. - Currently, we are making the analysis of tissue fluid extracted from the skin of a mammoth.

Vice President of the Association of Medical anthropologists of the Russian Federation Radik Khayrullin, who participated in the study, said that the mammoth could be cloned. Investigations are continuing.

The finding caused a great interest of both Russian and foreign specialists. In 2012, the Yakut and Korean scientists have signed an agreement on cooperation in the field of cloning a mammoth. A joint project of the North-Eastern Federal University Institute of Applied Ecology of the North and the Korean Biotechnology Research Fund Sooam is called "Rebirth of a mammoth". The researchers are full of determination: Russian scientists in 2014 opened the molecular genetics laboratory in Yakutsk, where all the remains are kept, and the Koreans themselves will provide work on cloning.
"The main task of the laboratory is molecular study of mammoth cells. Last year, an employee of the Mammoth Museum has undergone training on methods of cloning in South Korea, plus we have equipped a laboratory with genetic equipment. We have specialists in genetics, so we can hold genetic research ourselves ", - said Semyon Grigoryev, chief researcher at the Mammoth Museum of Institute of Applied Ecology of the North, adding that today, genetic studies are at the forefront of paleontological science.

According to the scientist, the opening of this center will fill a niche in the field of genetic research of animals, as well as make life easier for foreign colleagues coming to Yakutia to study the mammoth fauna.