Just last week, Russian scientists drew liquid blood from a frozen woolly mammoth corpse. Could this incredible discovery be used to clone the first living woolly mammoth in thousands of years?
When the scientists were excavating the mammoth’s body, they noted a deep red liquid oozing from the animal’s belly region. This is especially remarkable, since the ancient blood would have been thought to be frozen solid. The team collected a variety of DNA samples from the partially preserved mammoth, including muscle tissue, teeth and bones.
While it would be incredibly difficult to do, scientists from around the world continue to refine the idea of using some of the saved DNA from finds like these to eventually clone a real woolly mammoth. One of the most popular cloning techniques involves swapping out the nuclei from elephant egg cells with mammoth cells and placing the hybrid cells inside of an elephant’s womb so that a baby mammoth would form and be born naturally. It is an excellent theory, but one of the largest obstacles in the way, is recovering mammoth cells that have not been destroyed or seriously damaged via the freezing process.
The woolly mammoth’s native range stretched from Western Europe, through Russia and into North America. This species is noted for its brown shaggy coat, huge curved tusks and herbivorous diet. Tiny populations of woolly mammoths have been noted to live alongside humans on Russian and Alaskan islands as recently as four to six thousand years ago. Humans hunted woolly mammoths for their meat, hides and ivory.