Scientists have claimed they have a “good chance” of cloning a woolly mammoth which has been frozen for the past 43,000 years.
The international team of scientists at the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk, Siberia, believe they can extract DNA taken from the blood of the animal to mix it with that of an elephant.
The team, made up of scientists from several countries including Russia, US, UK, South Korea and Denmark, said the DNA taken from the autopsy could provide the perfect material for cloning.
Radik Khayrullin, vice president of the Russian Association of Medical Anthropologists, added the team must be responsible if they decide to in effect bring the woolly mammoth back to life.
“The data we are about to receive will give us a high chance to clone the mammoth,” he told the Siberian Times.
“We must have a reason to do this, as it is one thing to clone it for scientific purpose, and another to clone for the sake of curiosity.”
He added that if the process was successful, the animal would be different to the mammal which became extinct around 4,000 to 10,000 years ago.
“It will be a different mammoth to the one living 43,000 years ago, specially taking into account that there will be interbreeding with a female elephant.”
The team are said to be looking for a female Asian elephant whose egg they can inject the cloned material from the woolly mammoth with.
Semyon Grigoriev, head of the Museum of Mammoths of the Institute of Applied Ecology of the North at the North Eastern Federal University, said the cloning process may prove difficult as the evolutionary paths of the elephant and mammoth split many years ago.
Viktoria Egorova, chief of the Research and Clinical Diagnostic Laboratory of the Medical Clinic of North-Eastern Federal University, described her surprise at how well-preserved the body was after tens of thousands of years.
“We have dissected the soft tissues of the mammoth – and I must say that we didn’t expect such results,” she said.
“The carcass that is more than 43,000 years old has preserved better than a body of a human buried for six months.
“The tissue cut clearly shows blood vessels with strong walls. Inside the vessels there is haemolysed blood, where for the first time we have found erythrocytes. Muscle and adipose tissues are well preserved.
“We have also obtained very well-visualised migrating cells of the lymphoid tissue, which is another great discovery.”
The mammoth was discovered in May 2013 on the Mally Lyakhovsky Island, off the northern coast of Siberia.