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Return of the Mammoth?

11. July 2013 by Lorena 0 Comments

A woolly mammoth cut from the ice in Siberia goes on display this week in Yokohama, Japan. This mammoth, although 39,000 years old, is one of the best preserved specimens ever found, complete with tufts of light orange hair and areas of soft tissue.

 

It’s estimated that the female mammoth was three or four years old when it died, most likely of a lion attack. However, cuts on the body suggest that humans scavenged meat from it afterward; the discovery can give insights into how ancient humans hunted.

 

Wooly mammoths went extinct about 4,000 years ago, and we still do not know a lot about the species, such as how they adapted to the extreme cold of Siberia. These relatives of the elephant were originally native to Africa, but mammoth skeletons found all over the globe suggest that they migrated far from there about 3 million years ago. The woolly mammoths of Siberia, which had thick fur, a layer of fat and small ears and tails did not exist until half a million years ago. It’s estimated that there are as many as 150 million mammoths still buried under the permafrost.

 

What is especially notable about this mammoth specimen is that parts of her body have remained completely frozen, and were not damaged by repeated thaws and freezes. Russian scientists were able to extract a blood sample with intact DNA. The samples have been shared with a private bioengineering lab in South Korea in an attempt to bring the extinct creature back. The eventual plan is to implant a Siberian mammoth egg into a live elephant surrogate.

 

The mammoth will be on display from July 13th to September 16th.