According to Digital Journal
, the exceptionally well preserved carcass found in March was trapped in an ice tomb with much of the upper torso and two legs buried in soil showing signs of gnawing by both prehistoric and modern predators.
The head of the Russian team from the Museum of Mammoths of the Institute of Applied Ecology of the North at the North Eastern Federal University, Semyon Grigoriev, said the team found the carcass flowing with blood and remarked that it seemed to have a natural anti-freeze. He said: "It can be assumed that the blood of mammoths had some cryo-protective properties."
The property may explain how the species was able to thrive in the Ice Age.
reports he said: "It is great luck that the blood preserved and we plan to study it carefully... It is the first time we managed to obtain mammoth blood. No-one has ever seen before how the mammoth’s blood flows. For now our suspicion is that mammoth blood contains a kind of natural anti-freeze. Luckily we had taken with us on our expedition a special preservative agent for blood."
Explaining the excellent state of specimen, he said: "It has been preserved thanks to the special conditions, due to the fact that it did not defrost and then freeze again," and added: "We suppose the mammoth fell into water or got bogged down in a swamp, could not free herself and died. Due to this fact the lower part of the body was preserved very well."
Grigoriev said the mammoth was probably the best preserved specimen ever found. The team found well preserved muscle tissues and clumps of hair that were were intact. According to Grigoriev: "We were really surprised to find mammoth blood and muscle tissue." He described the specimen as "the best-preserved mammoth in the history of paleontology."
The team estimated the age of the animal at the time it died at between 50 and 60 years.
Due to the excellent state of preservation of the specimen, the Russian team had initially estimated its age at about 10,000 years but DNA tests revealed later that the specimen was much older, about 39,000 years.
This is the first time that scientists have found a woolly mammoth with well-preserved blood. The find has re-ignited interest in bringing the species back from extinction.
reports that the Russians have teamed up with Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in South Korea to explore the possibility of a "de-extinction" project. According to the Daily Mail
, blood and tissue samples of the specimen have been sent to South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk's private bioengineering laboratory.
Grigoriev said they are hoping to find at least one living cell of the mammoth preserved but acknowledged that "even with such well-preserved remains, this may not be the case."
Cloning the species back from extinction would probably involve implanting an embryo into a live elephant to act as surrogate mother. The Daily Mail
notes that the pay-off of bringing a mammoth back to life would be considerable. Pairs of pandas are leased for display at zoos for nearly one million dollars a year.
In recent times scientists have discussed in several forums plans to bring extinct species back to life. A group of scientists discussed "de-extinction" at the TEDx conference in Washington with several extinct species, including the dodo, the Carolina Parakeet and Quagga zebras on the list.
Some scientists have also considered a project for a real-life Jurassic Park, but other researchers have dampened enthusiasm for the plan after pointing out that the DNA of dinosaurs are too old to be used for de-extinction.
Researchers are now hoping that the DNA of the mammoth are not too old.
It is believed that the species was wiped out due to rapidly changing climate conditions and not by overhunting as previous studies suggested.