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Signs of life from 28,000-year-old mammoth


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A YOUNG female mam­moth, probably, 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. This mammoth was found in the Siberian permafrost in 2010, and although the carcass was frozen for 28,000 years, lead researcher explained to The Siberian Times in May 2011 that it stayed in such good condition because she remained frozen for a long, unbroken period of time.

In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports recently, a team of scien­tists from Japan and Russia announced that they have managed to recover Cell nu­clei from the left hind leg of this mammoth and were suc­cessfully implanted in mouse cells. Of the several dozen specimens, five showed the biological reactions that are required immediately before cell division can begin, Profes­sor Kei Miyamoto, a member of the study team at Kindai University in Japan reported. “We have been able to con­firm that the cells are able to react after being transplanted to the mouse embryos – even after such a long time – and that there is biological activ­ity,” he added.

While this is a positive de­velopment, he said, none of the samples produced the cell division that is required for a mammoth to be coaxed back to life. Achieving cell division is the next task, professor Miyamoto said. Work is con­tinuing on the carcass of the mammoth – nicknamed Yuka – to find cells that are less damaged and more viable for the research. The scientists say, they hope the technol­ogy they are developing can be used to prevent species that are today on the verge of extinction from disappear­ing forever.