1 Jun 2013

Frozen woolly mammoth still had blood in its veins

7:00 am on 1 June 2013

Russian researchers have found the remains of a woolly mammoth so perfectly preserved they were able to recover liquid blood from its veins.

The frozen carcass was discovered on a remote Arctic island earlier this month.

dark coloured blood trickled out - still liquid despite temperatures well below zero celsius - as the scientists were breaking up ice under the belly of the mammoth.

Expedition head Semyon Grigoryev of the Northeastern Federal University said the animal died at the age of around 60 some 10,000 - 15,000 years ago, and that it was the first time that an old female had been found. The carcass was so well preserved that it still had blood and muscle tissue.

"When we broke the ice beneath her stomach, the blood flowed out from there, it was very dark," he 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 predators.

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

Grigoryev said the discovery 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."

Woolly mammoths became extinct thousands of years ago.