Amazing New Siberian Mammoth Remains May Lead to Cloning Breakthrough
Russian scientists have retrieved the nearly complete remains of a woolly mammoth in Russia. The Siberian mammoth remains are so well-preserved that they still have flesh and hair. These remains are up to 10,000 years old and they could play an important role in the international race to recreate prehistoric beasts in laboratories. The remains of the prehistoric creature were found not far from the village of Seyakha. The find was first spotted by members of a local indigenous community in Lake Pechenelava, on the Yamal Peninsula . Siberia has been unusually warm this summer with massive wildfires in many areas of this remote and vast region. However, the hot weather also made it possible to release the Siberian mammoth remains from the permafrost.
Part of the recently found Siberian mammoth remains and two members of the local indigenous community that first spotted the find. (Image: Artem Cheremisov / Siberian Times )
10,000-Year-Old Siberian Mammoth Remains Are Almost Perfect
Experts from the Scientific Centre for Arctic studies arrived at the scene where the mammoth remains were found and began an investigation. They managed to retrieve the 90% of the remains of the mammoth making it a spectacular discovery. The Daily Mail reports that the animal is going to be called ‘Tadibe after its finder Konstantin Tadibe, a reindeer herder living near the lake where the mammoth was found.’
Initial investigations have revealed that the mammoth was a 10-foot-tall male teenager that died about 10,000 years ago. Evgenia Khozyainova, who took part in the study, stated that 'We have one front and one hind foot well preserved, with tendons, soft tissues and pieces of skin,' according to the Daily Mail . Also found was the creature’s sacrum, some vertebrae and most of its tail, complete with pieces of skin and muscle. Archaeologist Andrey Gusev told The Siberian Times that ‘We managed to extract part of the skeleton, another part of it is still underwater and clay.’
Researchers at the sight where the Siberian mammoth remains were discovered. (Image: Artem Cheremisov / Siberian Times )
Evidence Suggests the Mammoth Died of Natural Causes
The mammoth remains taken from the watery bank of the lake have been safely stored away in a special refrigeration unit. Unfortunately, the animal’s brain was not preserved which was something of a disappointment. The Siberian Times states ‘so far there is only one preserved brain found in 2014 in Yakutia on a woolly mammoth called Yuka.’ Moreover, no tusks were retrieved in the recent find. They could have been taken by humans or simply fell off.
There is no evidence to suggest that the mammoth was killed by prehistoric hunters . Although marks on the bones indicate that at some time the remains of the prehistoric creature were scavenged. Dr Pavel Kosintsev speculates that ‘The mammoth may have become stuck in an ice crevice and been unable to escape’ reports the Daily Mail .
The yellow soft tissues preserved on bone piece that was part of the newly discovered woolly mammoth found in Siberia. (Image: Artem Cheremisov / Siberian Times )
This Ancient Mammoth’s Soft Tissues Are Perfect for Cloning
It is exceedingly rare to find so many bones from one animal. Also found was some fossilized excrement, known as a coprolite. Dmitry Frolov, of the Arctic Research Centre, is quoted by the Daily Mail as saying that ‘The coprolite was left by this very mammoth.’ This discovery can provide scientists with considerable detail about the extinct mammoth’s eating habits.
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However, this amazing find is particularly important because it provides superbly preserved dead mammoth DNA which can be used in cloning experiments . Teams, from Russia, USA, Japan, and South Korea are all desperately trying to clone ancient animals in test-tubes. The soft tissue found on Tadibe could provide the DNA key for researchers to bring woolly mammoths back to life, much like the movie Jurassic Park . The Russian federal government has funded a laboratory in Siberia to help them to win the race to clone a mammoth, which has become a matter of national prestige.
A selection of the Siberian mammoth remains discovered at Seyakha Lake (Image: Artem Cheremisov / Siberian Times )
Mammoths once roamed over much of Eurasia. They are closely related to modern elephants , but they were twice their size. They had remarkable tusks and trunks that could pick up even small objects. These creatures had coats of long wool that allowed them to survive in the Arctic and they were herbivores. Mammoths were hunted by men and it is believed that overhunting along with climate change contributed to the extinction of these giants of the tundra, some 4000 years ago.
The world's most complete and best-preserved mammoth, nicknamed Lyuba, was also discovered on the Yamal Peninsula in 2007. Experts hope that the lake and the area around it will reveal many more ancient remains. They believe that just like Tadibe, other woolly elephants died here and were forever preserved in the permafrost. There could be a mammoth graveyard hidden in the silt and water, waiting to be found.
Top image: This massive 10,000-year-old skull was just a small part of the Siberian mammoth remains discovery. Source: Artem Cheremisov / Siberian Times
By Ed Whelan