Russian scientists make rare find of 'blood' in mammoth

May 29, 2013
A researcher in Yakutsk on May 13 next to a carcass of a female mammoth found on an island in the Arctic Ocean. Russian scientists claimed Wednesday they have discovered blood in the carcass of a woolly mammoth, adding that the rare find could boost their chances of cloning the prehistoric animal.

Russian scientists claimed Wednesday they have discovered blood in the carcass of a woolly mammoth, adding that the rare find could boost their chances of cloning the prehistoric animal.

An expedition led by Russian scientists earlier this month uncovered the well-preserved carcass of a female mammoth on a remote island in the .

Semyon Grigoryev, the head of the expedition, said the animal died at the age of around 60 some 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, and that it was the first time that an old female had been found.

But what was more surprising was that the carcass was so well preserved that it still had blood and .

"When we broke the ice beneath her stomach, the blood flowed out from there, it was very dark," Grigoryev, who is a scientist at the Yakutsk-based Northeastern Federal University, told AFP.

"This is the most astonishing case in my entire life. How was it possible for it to remain in liquid form? And the muscle tissue is also red, the colour of fresh meat," he added.

Grigoryev said that the lower part of the carcass was very well preserved as it ended up in a pool of water that later froze over. The upper part of the body including the back and the head are believed to have been eaten by , he added.

"The forelegs and the stomach are well preserved, while the hind part has become a ."

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The discovery, Grigoryev said, gives new hope to researchers in their quest to bring the woolly mammoth back to life.

"This find gives us a really good chance of finding live cells which can help us implement this project to clone a mammoth," he said.

"Previous mammoths have not had such well-preserved tissue."

Last year, Grigoryev's Northeastern Federal University signed a deal with cloning pioneer Hwang Woo-Suk of South Korea's Sooam Foundation, who in 2005 created the world's first cloned dog.

A researcher at Northeastern Federal University in Yakutsk on May 13 holds a phial said to contain mammoth blood. An expedition led by Russian scientists earlier this month uncovered the well-preserved carcass of a female mammoth on a remote island in the Arctic Ocean.

In the coming months, mammoth specialists from , Russia and the United States are expected to study the remains which the Russian scientists are now keeping at an undisclosed northern location.

"I won't say where it is being kept or it may get stolen," he said.

Last year, a teenager from a nomadic family in Russia's north stumbled upon a massive well-preserved woolly mammoth, in what scientists described as the best such discovery since 1901.

The young male mammoth was dubbed Zhenya after the nickname of the boy who discovered it.

Global warming has thawed ground in northern Russia that is usually almost permanently frozen, leading to the discoveries of a number of remains.

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Sanescience
1 / 5 (14) May 29, 2013
Cloning a mammoth comes up every once in a while. Scientists who know about such things always roll their eyes. Stephan Schuster describes it like this: odds of finding intact mammoth nuclei. "It's entirely impossible"

http://phenomena....inction/
mdb
5 / 5 (8) May 29, 2013
@Sanescience... interesting that you cherry-pick a quote to give a very deceiving representation of what Stephan Schuster says. He is clearly not a fan of spending money on research to clone a mammoth and probably considers it a longshot.... but he by no means thinks the cloning itself is impossible. For example just by reading to the end of the very link you gave then you could read this....

"Despite these many hurdles, Schuster does not dismiss the possibility of cloning a mammoth, especially with improvements in genetic techniques. "

***Edit --- and just to add that article and those quotes were before finding what they believe to be actual blood and well preserved muscle tissue. Something nobody would have expected we would ever find.
lonefather
1.3 / 5 (15) May 29, 2013
It is madness ... call back to life animals which long gone with the enviroment changes ...

You have to be mad, or completly heartless to recreate animals adapted to the enviroment which gone around 10 000 years ago. There is no more dry periglacial steppe which was the mammoth enviroment, therefore it will be just the art of genetic for the ambitions of scientiests. I vote against that cruelty (even if it is possible)...
Sanescience
1.8 / 5 (10) May 29, 2013
@mdb
Cherry picking is if you don't provide the context of the quote. I'm not going to cut and paste the entire article. You yourself selected one quote to demonstrate what you think his opinion is.

Like any scientist that takes his field seriously he keeps an open mind and considers very unlikely scenarios. You took his one concession to inherent uncertainty and implied his position is entirely opposite of what I quoted being "Very deceiving".

I find this desire of some people to use any responsible uncertainty expressed by a scientist to declare invalid, if not outright reversing, their contribution to a topic as being a major component of what is wrong with media coverage of science today.

dougie_fresh_007
3 / 5 (4) May 29, 2013
cloning a mammoth is not so crazy if the specimen stayed frozen the entire time
grondilu
5 / 5 (3) May 29, 2013
I don't know of any extinct species for which we have some actual blood. This is as good as it can be, isn't it? Now, should we clone a Mammoth if we can? Hell, yeah! We all want to know what it looked like.
Sanescience
2.1 / 5 (9) May 29, 2013
@dougie
When flash frozen under very controlled environment to prevent ice crystals from forming it has been achieved. These cells were not flashed frozen and were possibly thawed and frozen several times. It was also exposed to ambient levels of radiation plus what ever cosmic and solar storms happened for the past 16,000 years with out the living mechanisms that constantly repair DNA while we are alive.

Ice crystals rupture cells and even if the nucleus stays intact DNA breaks down over time regardless of frozen water around it unless specially shielded and kept far colder than exists on earth. It is also worth noting that a genome is different than just the coding DNA. All the "junk" DNA has been shown to be very important to normal development. It also worth noting that the DNA of mitochondria is also part of an animals genome. I haven't seen much discussion of how donated elephant egg mtDNA is handled.
Neinsense99
2.9 / 5 (15) May 29, 2013
@mdb
Cherry picking is if you don't provide the context of the quote. I'm not going to cut and paste the entire article. You yourself selected one quote to demonstrate what you think his opinion is.

Like any scientist that takes his field seriously he keeps an open mind and considers very unlikely scenarios. You took his one concession to inherent uncertainty and implied his position is entirely opposite of what I quoted being "Very deceiving".

I find this desire of some people to use any responsible uncertainty expressed by a scientist to declare invalid, if not outright reversing, their contribution to a topic as being a major component of what is wrong with media coverage of science today.


Cherry-picking is not omitting the context, it is selecting only what supports a predetermined conclusion or impression that one is trying to create. Missing context may also be involved, but that is not the essence of cherry-picking.
betterexists
1 / 5 (7) May 29, 2013
Since it is a female......If Ovary is available...i.e if...
Eggs can be used to get both Embryonic & Recently suggested Embryonated Stem Cells.
betterexists
1 / 5 (9) May 29, 2013
How come gAD got rid of These & Dinosaurs. Dumbso. One foot in Science and another foot in Religion. It Certainly does not make any Sense.
betterexists
1 / 5 (11) May 29, 2013
Someone talked of Cruelty. Far better than going to far off lands on one pretext or other and killing people. Communism in Vietnam for eg
sirchick
1.7 / 5 (6) May 29, 2013
We worry about introducing foreign insects/animals from air travel / shipping etc....

Why do they think it won't be a problem if we bring them back for a mammoth ?
betterexists
1 / 5 (7) May 29, 2013
It will be a great scientific feat if the cloning of this is done. Already so many extant animals have been cloned. It is the turn of an extinct one now.
Neinsense99
3.5 / 5 (22) May 29, 2013
One thing is for sure . . . it will be a mammoth undertaking.
usernamesetting
1.5 / 5 (4) May 29, 2013
I guess Zhenya just used a zhonya's. But it glitched so it stayed invincible forever under the snow.

~prehistoric league of legends
ROBTHEGOB
2.6 / 5 (5) May 30, 2013
A mammoth undertaking for a mammoth undertaker. I could not resist.
betterexists
1 / 5 (7) May 30, 2013
I hope Religion will not come in the way in this like it did in other expected to be most useful ventures.

Irrespective of declared belief in Religions, some nations have gone Rogue, Particularly of the Predatory Religions!
geokstr
1 / 5 (6) May 30, 2013
I don't know of any extinct species for which we have some actual blood. This is as good as it can be, isn't it? Now, should we clone a Mammoth if we can? Hell, yeah! We all want to know what it looked like.

A big hairy elephant.

Besides, if I understand cloning from one individual's DNA properly, the only way is to combine it with an egg from a currently living related animal, so it will look like a combination of the two.
Sanescience
1 / 5 (6) May 30, 2013
@mdb
Cherry picking is if you don't provide the context of the quote. I'm not going to cut and paste the entire article. You yourself selected one quote to demonstrate what you think his opinion is.
Cherry-picking is not omitting the context, it is selecting only what supports a predetermined conclusion or impression that one is trying to create. Missing context may also be involved, but that is not the essence of cherry-picking.


One provides the *whole* article, and it is cherry picking? Is it just too much work for people to follow a citation anymore?

I don't know why this bothers me. I shouldn't be surprised.

Maybe it is just because of the irony of a citation I provided for context then used to dredge up another quote about a small concession to the topic and then claimed I cherry-picked to misrepresent the scientists opinion. It is like the criminal accusing the victim of the crime he committed himself.
antialias_physorg
2.6 / 5 (5) May 30, 2013
You have to be mad, or completly heartless to recreate animals adapted to the enviroment which gone around 10 000 years ago.

As opposed to breeding animals that are not adapted to any environment that has ever existed? (Have you had a look at what dogs, cats, and farm animals look like, recently?)
Cloning a mammoth would be no worse - and we would likely provide it with an environment that would be OK for it to live in in some zoo...we certainly wouldn't release it into the wild. It'd be far too valuable.

Now, should we clone a Mammoth if we can?

Take a blood cell. Take out the DNA from the nucleus. Implant it into an elephant ovum, and fertilize an elephant with it.

We worry about introducing foreign insects/animals from air travel / shipping etc....Why do they think it won't be a problem if we bring them back for a mammoth ?

Because insects/animals are carriers of diseases and endanger local wildlife/crops. Mammoths do not.
antialias_physorg
2.6 / 5 (5) May 30, 2013
if I understand cloning from one individual's DNA properly, the only way is to combine it with an egg from a currently living related animal, so it will look like a combination of the two.

Erm. I think you missed the part where it says 'cloning'.

Cloning means an (DNA-)identical offspring from a parent organism. No combination of two sets of DNA from different individuals (which is just breeding - not cloning).

You combine it with an egg cell - but minus the DNA of the donor of the egg cell (you scoop that out).
The reason why you use an egg cell from a donor (and not one from the harvested animal - even if one were available) is because the chance that it would be rejected by the surrogate mother would be very high.
It's cell-surface HLA-markers would be attacked by the surrogate mother's immune system.
Noodle_Naut
1.3 / 5 (7) May 30, 2013
Current techniques try to find a perfect copy of the DNA but that is not the only conceivable way to do it. Chances are background radiation over 10,000 years, especially as it is a polar region which has less protection from radiation from space, left virtually every copy damaged beyond usefulness, and those that are undamaged would be impossible to distinguish from the rest. But if thousands of copies were decoded, the entire real code could be deciphered. That could be simply synthesized and then put in an elephant egg and 600 days later more or less...baby mammoth.
That approach would cost a bundle but it should work. And the synthesizing part could be delayed until it is cheap or crowd-fund it. The important thing is getting the whole code correct.
There are possible problems. The hemoglobin must have the right affinity for oxygen in the blood. If that is off one direction...don't remember which...it won't survive. Of course, we can change the one gene to make it work.
Neinsense99
2.7 / 5 (14) May 31, 2013
I hope they don't listen to the bean counters and outsource the cloning to the Raelians....
malty
2.4 / 5 (5) May 31, 2013
I think some one really needs to proof read and consider their words.
The text reads '"This find gives us a really good chance of finding live cells which can help us implement this project to clone a mammoth," he said.'
While I would agree that there may be intact cells, and there could be some largely non-degraded DNA. The concept of "living cells" after 10,000 years in a frozen mud puddle is a real stretch of any mammalian biology.

Flash frozen, with chemicals added to prevent cell and membrane rupture and then kept at liquid nitrogen temperature, perhaps that cell could be "resurrected" after 10,000 years.

If the beast contains living cells, we don't need fancy DNA swap techniques with a living animal, just tissue culture it. Convert it to a stem cells and grow a real Mammoth, not a "eleMammoth",

Sinister1811
1.9 / 5 (7) Jun 01, 2013
It is madness ... call back to life animals which long gone with the enviroment changes ...


There's still plenty of Arctic tundra left. It's one of the least inhabited areas on the planet, due to its freezing temperatures.

From what I've heard, it won't be a hybrid, because they're planning to remove the cell nucleus from the elephant egg cell and replace it with that of the mammoth, therefore producing an animal that is 100% mammoth. This will undoubtedly be very interesting.
TransmissionDump
5 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2013
We worry about introducing foreign insects/animals from air travel / shipping etc....

Why do they think it won't be a problem if we bring them back for a mammoth ?


I just had a visual of being on an inbound aeroplane and getting sprayed for mammoths.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Jun 01, 2013
They'll probably put it on the visa forms:
"Does your luggage contain unchecked mammoths? All mammoths must be declared before entering the US. If you are found smuggeling mammoths into the country you will be fined."
sirchick
5 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2013
We worry about introducing foreign insects/animals from air travel / shipping etc....Why do they think it won't be a problem if we bring them back for a mammoth ?

Because insects/animals are carriers of diseases and endanger local wildlife/crops. Mammoths do not.


Not referring to diseases... im referring to insects more specifically. They can wipe out crops for example if they breed crazily.

New animals can change the food chain balance. Surely this would also occur for a mammoth, its almost reckless not to carefully consider these issues. We can model what would happen sure, still a risk though surely.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 01, 2013
New animals can change the food chain balance. Surely this would also occur for a mammoth,

Even that wouldn't be much of a problem as mammoths are not predator species.

Now I'm not saying that we wouldn't need to keep tabs on a cloned animal - but doing that (and curbing any kind of populations explosion - unlikely as that would be from a singular, cloned animal (read: 'impossible')) doesn't seem like a hard proposition. We're not talking dingos, rabbits of bullfrogs, here.
Mammoths are notoriously bad at going unnoticed.
Neinsense99
2.7 / 5 (12) Jun 01, 2013
Forget keeping the mammoth from running amok, worry about stopping poachers.
R_R
1 / 5 (9) Jun 02, 2013
Funny how some some beast is wondering around Siberia during an ice age and then is frozen solid for 10,000 years of a warm interglacial.
kochevnik
2.5 / 5 (8) Jun 02, 2013
You have to be mad, or completly heartless to recreate animals adapted to the enviroment which gone around 10 000 years ago.
But what if they taste good?
R_R
1 / 5 (10) Jun 02, 2013
Funny as in ????
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (6) Jun 02, 2013
New animals can change the food chain balance. Surely this would also occur for a mammoth, its almost reckless not to carefully consider these issues. We can model what would happen sure, still a risk though surely
?? If they cause trouble we just shoot them. Like we always do.
Sinister1811
2 / 5 (8) Jun 03, 2013
New animals can change the food chain balance. Surely this would also occur for a mammoth, its almost reckless not to carefully consider these issues. We can model what would happen sure, still a risk though surely

?? If they cause trouble we just shoot them. Like we always do.


Yeah same, I don't get the whole "introduced species" thing for cloned animals. It's not like we're introducing cane toads from South America and into Australia (where they've never existed). These were animals who used to live in this environment. To say that "they don't belong there" is the dumbest argument I've ever heard. And I'm sick of people stating their "ethical" concerns against cloning as though they are fact.
R_R
1 / 5 (10) Jun 03, 2013
Funny as in the pole shifted 30 degrees and we sold a bunch of rediculus carp.
helen_jensen_969
1 / 5 (5) Jun 03, 2013
It would be useless to bring back such animal as you wouldnt really be able to learn anything about their behaviour, tastes, etc. as it would just learn how to behave in the habitat we put them and carry on as it can.
There wont be anything to learn from the animal except how it looks in reality with its fur, etc. Just last two weeks two species of animals went extinct, we cannot keep up safe our current fauna and flora and we expect to bring an animal that it was long gone just to look at it in awe.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Jun 04, 2013
It would be useless to bring back such animal as you wouldnt really be able to learn anything about their behaviour, tastes, etc. as it would just learn how to behave in the habitat we put them and carry on as it can.

You could still learn abouttheir immune system, digestive system, ... which would be very interesting to verify models on how these have changed from then until now.
It might even lead to cures as current pathogens aren't adapted to immune systems that aren't around anymore and might well be susceptible to a 'long lost' trick or two.
hrfJC
1 / 5 (3) Jun 25, 2013
10,000 year old blood still red and containing intact red cells? and flowing suggests much lower age since the enzymes in blood would digest cells and proteins to a brown gunk of fragments. And global freeze thaw cycling would also rupture red blood cells and speed up blood destruction. Paleontologists have some explaining to do rather than ho hum it under the carpet.

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