Science

Woolly mammoth blood still fresh under the ice

By Enozia Vakil , May 30, 2013 11:34 AM EDT

Under sheets of ice on a remote island in the Arctic Ocean, the frozen body of a woolly mammoth remained preserved for over 15,000 years.

The recent study and 'excavation' of this very mammoth, done by a team of Russian scientists, revealed a stunning discovery - despite spending years and years under the ice, the blood still flowed freely from the ancient mammal.

A team of Russian scientists along with the Research Institute of Applied Ecology of the North, North-Eastern Federal University and the Russian Geographical Society revealed this amazing new discovery, following their possibly breakthrough study of the carcass of a female mammoth, preserved for years under the ice, on the Lyakhovsky Islands of Novosibirsk archipelago.

Despite the freezing temperatures beneath the sheets of ice, the blood that oozed out of this ancient mammoth still looked fresh, and flowed out normally.

"The blood is very dark, it was found in ice cavities below the belly and when we broke these cavities with a poll pick, the blood came running out," Semyon Grigoriev, the head of the expedition and chairman of the Mammoth Museum, explained.

"Interestingly, the temperature at the time of excavation was -7 to -10 degrees Celsius [19.4 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit]. It may be assumed that the blood of mammoths had some cryoprotective properties."

Yet another stunning discovery they came across was the fact that not just the blood, but the flesh of the mammoth too, seemed fresh, and nothing like centuries old.

Grigoriev further claims that the fragments of the muscle tissues, which they found on the body, had a natural fresh red color, similar to that of fresh meat.

He speculates that the reason behind this 'freshness' of the meat and blood of this mammoth may be the fact that the lower part of the body of this animal was lying in pure ice, whereas the upper part in the middle of tundra.

Wooly mammoth, assumed to be extinct around 10,000 years ago, may have lived longer in smaller groups around Alaska and Russia's Wrangel Island off the Siberian coast.

Balls of hair obtained from the wooly mammoth have already helped researchers gain valuable insight into the genetic code of this Siberian animal. Also, if they scientists managed to find living cells in the permafrost, who knows, they might even be able to recreate this prehistoric animal.

Such a recreation could get them the 'Jurassic Park prize'; a concept developed by the X Prize Foundation.

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