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Exclusive: The first pictures of blood from a 10,000 year old Siberian woolly mammoth

By 0 and 0 and 0
29 May 2013


First ever sample of mammoth's blood was discovered by Siberian researches. Picture: Semyon Grigoriev

Scientists say they have found both blood and muscle tissue - perfectly preserved in the ice - from a Siberian mammoth. 

The blood had dripped out of the giant animal into a natural ice capsule and it represents a dream discovery for researchers.

It comes amid a hotly contested debate on whether scientists should try to recreate the extinct species using DNA, though there now seems little doubt that this WILL happen, and the Russian team from Yakutsk that made the find is working in a partnership with South Korean scientists who are actively seeking to bring the mammoth back to life. 

first ever sample of mammoth's blood Siberia

'We were really surprised to find mammoth blood and muscle tissue,' said Semyon Grigoriev, head of the Museum of Mammoths of the Institute of Applied Ecology of the North at the North Eastern Federal University. Picture: Semyon Grigoriev

The find was made in temperatures of minus 10C on the New Siberian Islands - or Novosibirsk Islands, off the coast of the Republic of Sakha. 

'We were really surprised to find mammoth blood and muscle tissue,' said Semyon Grigoriev, head of the Museum of Mammoths of the Institute of Applied Ecology of the North at the North Eastern Federal University. 

'It is the first time we managed to obtain mammoth blood. No-one has ever seen before how the mammoth's blood flows'. 

He explained: 'The approximate age of this animal is about 10,000 years old. It has been preserved thanks to the special conditions, due to the fact that it did not defrost and then freeze again.

'We suppose that 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, including the lower jaw, and tongue tissue, was preserved very well. 

'The upper torso and two legs, which were in the soil, were gnawed by prehistoric and modern predators and almost did not survive.'

Despite this, he hails it as 'the best preserved mammoth in the history of paleontology. 

first ever sample of mammoth's blood Siberia

'For now our suspicion is that mammoth blood contains a kind of natural anti-freeze'. Picture: Semyon Grigoriev

The scientists believed from studying her teeth that this mammoth died when she was between 50 and 60 years of age. 

'Of course, we all heard the stories, that indigenous northern people found frozen mammoth meat and fed their dogs with it. However, even if this actually happened, they did not get into hands of scientists. 

'We hope that at least one living cell of the mammoth was preserved, but even in such a good condition of the carcass the chances of this are small.

'Yet it is great luck that the blood preserved and we plan to study it carefully'. 

first ever sample of mammoth's blood Siberia

first ever sample of mammoth's blood Siberia

'We have taken all possible samples: samples of blood, blood vessels, glands, soft tissue, in a word - everything that we could'. Picture: Semyon Grigoriev

'For now our suspicion is that mammoth blood contains a kind of natural anti-freeze.

'In 2010, Canadian researchers compared the DNA of the mammoth and its closest relative the Indian elephant. It turned out that mammoth haemoglobin let go of its oxygen much more readily at cold temperatures.'

With the newly-discovered mammoth 'we have taken all possible samples: samples of blood, blood vessels, glands, soft tissue, in a word - everything that we could. 

'Luckily we had taken with us on our expedition a special preservative agent for blood. 

'We decided that taking the whole carcass by helicopter to Yakutsk would be very dangerous and that we could lose invaluable material because of defrosting. We did not take the risk, and moved the rest of carcass - it weighs about a ton - from the islands to the mainland and put it into an icehouse. 

'In late July - early August, we plan to go there with our foreign colleagues for further researches.'

first ever sample of mammoth's blood Siberia

first ever sample of mammoth's blood Siberia

'We moved the rest of carcass from the islands to the mainland and put it into an icehouse'. Pictures: Semyon Grigoriev

Last year a deal was signed giving South Korean scientists exclusive rights on cloning the woolly mammoth from certain tissue samples found in the Siberian permafrost. Stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk's private bioengineering laboratory confirmed he is poised to make a bid to return the extinct Siberian mammoth to the planet. 

Once the tissues have been treated to a nuclear transfer process, the eggs will be implanted into the womb of a live elephant for a 22-month pregnancy.

Comments (115)

I saw the show highlighting the find on one of the science or history channels. Why does the article say that a Russian team made the find and not that it was the Korean scientist who risked his life going into the cave without the Russian scientists approval. The team might have been Russian but I thought that brave scientist should have been recognized.
Barbara grainger, Atlanta, usa
11/12/2018 19:21
I do not know why people attack Christians just for the sake of attacking. First the bible did not say conclusively that Earth is young and if so then it is the fault of bible but those who are doing the explanation and analysis of what is written in the bible and even it was written then it has different meaning and this is why the eastern Christians do not adopt that idea and it came from the west when James Ussher the archbishop of Ireland declared that. Also you need to read the article carefully, because this is suggesting that age of that mammoth is younger what was thought before and the new discoveries concerning a T-Rex blood cells and tissues prove that. And of course I will not talk about the radiometric dating because it will need pages to explain things. So before you comment on people like Christians, find out first why you hate them, because if you find the truth it will shock you and change you for ever.
Nabil Kanja, Illinois
24/11/2016 22:47
There is a reason that animals that are going extinct are going extinct. There aren't enough resources to support these animals, so if you spend millions of dollars cloning these animals and create too many of them, they will just all die again anyway because there aren't resources to support them and it would be. Waste of money.
AJ , Utah USA
03/03/2016 08:31
More proof the Earth is over 6000 years old. Suck it christians !
Darren, Chacktun, China
07/10/2015 11:26
Let's say this miracle did happen once it grew to full size with its strength what cage could hold it and when the appetite increases what could satisfy it HUMANS=meat and can't get close to feed it's going.going to kill you need huge holes to throw the amount of food it needs inside the giant cage can't get close the giant tusk expand towards you . Eventually it would become a kill or be killed situation People this comment was made by my 7 year old grandson ,grown-up wake up
Ij, Illinois
08/07/2015 11:00
how about mammoth now?
zairi, indonesia
22/04/2015 03:09
It would be truly fantastic if they could bring a wooly mammoth back simply because they have a sample of its blood. But I don't see how this could be possible. If they believe they can actually accomplish such a miracle, then why aren't they getting all the animals on today's current endangered list off that list. Getting samples of their blood is a lot easier task. If they can bring back an animal that's been extinct for thousands of years then they can keep every animal that's close to extinction from becoming extinct!
Debbie, Chicago/USA
09/03/2015 03:46
pany lonkey, new york city
17/12/2014 07:08
If the mammoth comes back, i would be very exited because i have always liked that kind of animals! It would be so cool to see a mammoth alive for real! Even if it's not 100% sure it's going to work -In my opinion- it's important to try! It would be the biggest breakthrough in the science world! I really want to see this happen!
Ayumi, Sweden
02/08/2014 17:07
I think this is quite novel. This will open the door to a realistic perception of the cloning and genetic modification of further prehistoric creatures, including extinct animals. I see a very real chance of Dinosaurs being recreated and "modernized" as a genetic engineer, the power and abilities we wield, both frightens and excites me. I hope that personal opinions based upon religion and personal preference can be set aside in lieu of the fact that all development of mankind has at some point been questioned by others, thought impossible or crazy. Need I mention the invention of the cell phone, radio and even the common everyday light bulb that even you yourself may not be able to explain as far as how it works or how it was invented. Let us welcome a new Era.
Dr. Hellsing, USA
30/07/2014 06:51
c.sivakumar, INDIA -TAMILNAD
22/07/2014 17:21
Let's leave religion and personal views of religion out of this. This is science at its best. Experimental cloning, why not. Give it a shot. Most successful attempts to clone have died shortly after birth or had a very short life span. Reason, cloning is not a natural recipe that nature created in it's own kitchen. Give science a chance to have fun with this, but don't expect it to go too far. A mammoth wandering freely on this planet again, will never happen.
Lenz Bruchert, Hunfeld, Germany
29/04/2014 12:09
How would this critter adapt to the current biological threats? Would newly born be a clone or mixed with Elephant cell, and thus get mitochondria from Elephant, but nucleus of Mammoth? Hope Momma can support the baby!
John West, Wayne NJ
15/03/2014 02:06
thanks for sharing this
telly, LA
24/02/2014 22:10
First Anna , let me thank you for keeping us informed on the latest developments of the 10,000 year old Siberian Woolly Mammoth

Unbelievably,and against all odds we now we have blood samples from this female Woolly Mammoth who roamed Siberia all that time ago .(Damn I forget the name the archeologist named HER) We can learn so much about our past from HER that could help our future .

It was a chance in a million, the right place exactly ,the right time exactly ,so many criterial functions had to be met in order to have such a fine specimen.

The Siberian Gods have blessed us all with such an important find .We owe this majestic beast a place in the future ,for which SHE waited so long .

Anna please keep us all informed ,as we all wait with tremendous impatience on any late news on our "adopted" Woolly Mammoth ok da da SHE belongs to all of us Patrick .
Patrick Travers, Perth Australia
05/12/2013 20:32

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