Animals Image Credits: Siberian Times

Published on June 4th, 2013 | by James Ayre


Wooly Mammoth Found In Siberia Still Has Liquid Blood In It — Frozen Mammoth Discovery Reopens Debate Over Cloning

A frozen woolly mammoth carcass was recently discovered in Siberia which — amazingly — still contains liquid blood in it. The mammoth is estimated to be about 10,000 years old, and was discovered in the remote New Siberian Islands, in the Arctic. The region is relatively cold — getting as low as -10 Celsius, which helps to explain the amazing state of preservation. The animal is estimated to have been around 60 years of age when it died and was frozen.

Image Credits: Siberian Times

Image Credits: Siberian Times

The story of the mammoth’s discovery is pretty crazy: “We suppose that the mammoth fell into water or got bogged down in a swamp, could not free herself and died,” expedition leader Semyon Grigoryev told the Siberian Times. “Due to this fact the lower part of the body, including the lower jaw, and tongue tissue, was preserved very well.”

The most amazing part though — as the researchers cracked the ice surrounding the mammoth’s belly — thick dark blood started flowing out of the cracks. How is there still liquid blood in a 10,000-year-old corpse — it almost sounds like something out of an old B-movie or something.

“This is the most astonishing case in my entire life,” Grigoryev told the Agence France-Presse. “How was it possible for it to remain in liquid form? And the muscle tissue is also red, the color of fresh meat.”

Image Credits: Siberian Times

Image Credits: Siberian Times

The wooly mammoth’s teeth, bones and muscle tissue, were also collected along with the blood — all of which was sent to labs in Yakutsk. It’s been speculated by some researchers that perhaps there are compounds in mammoth blood that act as an antifreeze.

It’s worth noting that the finding is very likely the result of the extensive warming that the Arctic has been experiencing in recent years — the region where the frozen carcass was found has been experiencing significant melting of its permafrost as a result of the rising temperatures. Perhaps other discoveries such as this will emerge in the coming years as a result of the warming? Intact carcasses of other extinct megafauna animals?

The discovery has reignited the debate about the possibility of cloning the mammoth, or other extinct species. The idea seems to have the public imagination, but also is very controversial. “In 2012, North-Eastern Federal University signed a deal with the South Korean foundation that cloned the world’s first dog in 2005,” with the intention of exploring the possibility. If a mammoth is cloned, it would be done via an elephant surrogate. Is that ethical? Given how little we know about mammoths, there is a real possibility that such an elephant surrogate could die while giving birth.

As I wrote in a previous article:

In my opinion, such projects are solely about human vanity, and offer no real benefits. Bringing an animal back from extinction this way is practically impossible and very resource intensive. Even if the cloning process was more reliable and produced healthier animals than it does, without significant genetic diversity species simply can’t survive.

Bringing back even a couple of different specimens would simply result in animals that are significantly inbred and very susceptible to environmental changes and disease, and probably developmental disorders. Not to mention the fact that the world that these animals lived in is long gone. And also that species evolve in mutualism with the myriad numbers of bacteria, viruses, and other small organisms that live within and on them, and also those that constitute their environment — without such species, animals can’t survive. Without the microbes that live within us, we could not survive for even a few minutes.

The world is an entirely different one now, and would not be benefited by bringing a mammoth back. If resources are to be spent anywhere, it should no doubt be to stem the enormous rate of extinction and habitat loss that is currently occurring. It’s been estimated “that if the current rate of human disruption of the biosphere continues, that one half of all of the world’s multicellular life forms will be extinct by 2100.”

As I noted in that article — does it make any sense to spend significant money on the resurrection of a single individual from an extinct species while the vast majority of the world’s large species are now rapidly heading towards extinction?

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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Amy Veloz

    Let the poor mammoths rest in piece. If we brought them back, then hunters would start shooting them. Look at what they are doing to our poor elephants for their ivory. It’s a disgrace! R.I.P. mammoths, you’ve done your time on this cruel planet.

  • Tura Satana

    - 10 Celsius is not very cold. I suspect a typo.

  • Daniel Xavier Knight

    “is it ethical”? Shut the hell up liberals. shut up.

    • Zachary Shahan

      so, liberals are the only ones who care about ethics?

  • no_teabagger

    Could we just keep comments on the subject at hand?????

    • Daniel Xavier Knight

      and the subjects are and you care so much because??????!@?!?!?!@W?!@!1111

    • Daniel Xavier Knight


  • yanassi

    i can’t judge the morality of doing such a thing. I can judge the morality of industrial poisoning of the oceans, the air, or the wanton destruction of forests, etc so someone could make money at the expense of indigenous people who’ve live in those locations for generations (going into someone’s country to buy land using real estate laws from a totally different country) or the disregard for migratory and other needs of regional animal specials, etc. I don’t care how people want to spend their money, it’s more about how they get it. Vanity comes in many forms, it could be the billionaire’s need for a gold toilet, a priest telling parishioners the earth is 6,000 years old and dinosaurs never existed (without any scientific training), or anyone thinking their race or principles are better than someone else.

    • Reality Checker

      Stop your crying. Do something about the destruction of our planet by picketing Beijing before you gripe about the free marketed system we all count on for your welfare checks like the natives get just for being native.

      • Daniel Xavier Knight

        “waaaaah stick with the subject while i go off ranting and whining about it being vain for “[only!?] priests to tell [only?!] their parishioners that earth is 6000 years old” cuz don’t u know ONLY CATHOLICS BELIEVE THAT AND ALL CATHOLICS BELIEVE THAT AND YOU ARE GOD TO ACCUSE ANYONE WHO BELIEVES THAT AS BEING VAIN, AND GOD GET’S IGNORED BECAUSE HOLY (LOL!) “REALITY CHECKER” SAID SO. You evil and vain blood bag, get lost. You’re obviously blinded by Satan, delusional, hate God and are a narcissist who sees everyone else who doesn’t agree with his feelings as vain and makes reality whatever you say it to be Mr. IT’S NOT VAIN TO CLAIM THE UNIVERSE IS 14 BILLION YEARS OLD WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE NOR ABSURD OR TO PRETEND IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW LIFE STARTED OR PROVE MY ABSURD CLAIMS WE EVOLVED FROM WHATEVER OVER BILLIONS OF YEARS SOMEHOW OR TO IGNORE THE MOST SUCCESSFUL WIDESPREAD MOST INFLUENTIAL BENEFICIAL BOOK IN THE WORLD”. REALLY MR REALITY “CHECKER” REALLY? Check that out: you don’t know science, archeology, theology yet play “Reality Checker” on them. And what a god damned pretentious name that is you jerk. Get lost man. You’re a demon.

    • Daniel Xavier Knight

      “Vanity comes in many forms, it could be the billionaire’s need for a gold toilet, a priest telling parishioners the earth is 6,000 years ” but not you claiming vanity is “,a priest telling parishioners the earth is 6,000 years” without evidence, therefore a vain ad hominem attack at you, and yet you’re abusrd arrogan bigot religion ignorant self says “Could we just keep comments on the subject at hand?????”. Get morals you idiot, get a brain, learn about religion you’re so ignorant about, stop commenting on things you know nothing about like creationism or science you biased gullible parrot. Example of what an ignorant moron you are: excluding 6000 year old creationism to PRIESTS AND PARISHONERS (WHAT IN THEE HELL?! BABY-BRAINED COMMENT ALERT, MORON ALERT) and not explain why that is “vanity” yet BEING IGNORANT OF MORALITY INCLUDING THE MORALITY OF WHAT VANITY IS YOU IDIOT. GOD DAMN READ THE BASIC TEN COMMANDMENTS ALREADY YOU SUPER MORON. GOD DAMN HOW MANY MORE THOUSANDS OF YEARS AND BILLIONS AND BILLIONS OF BOOKS DOES IT NEED TO BE MENTIONED AND PUBLISHED IN, HOW MANY MORE VIDEOS IDIOT BEFORE IT OCCURS TO YOU THAT YOOOOU AAAAAREEE NOOOOOT GOOOOOD OOOOFF MORAAALITY IIIDIOOOOT. DON’T TAKE THE NAME YAHWEH YOUR GOD IN VAIN YOU MORON, DON’T PLAY GOD YOU MORON, DON’T IGNORE GOD’S WORD YOU MORON, THAT IS WHAT IS VAIN YOU MORON. Now can you stick with the subject? “Avoid arguments of ignorance” the apostle Paul. Bye stupid guy.

  • Andrew Howard

    Just posted this on facebook and thought I should copy & paste here.

    It is true
    that you would need to clone a certain number of individual animals to
    obtain the kind of genetic diversity required to revive the species
    without significant problems from inbreeding (how many individuals
    depends on a number of factors, including the rate of population growth,
    etc.). But suppose the cloned mammoth in question was doomed to live
    and die without reproducing. So what? This doesn’t render the project
    unethical, and we would glean a good deal of scientifically valuable
    information from the whole ordeal. If anyone disagrees with the latter
    proposal, then why on Earth do we bother with the fields of archaeology,
    paleontology, etc.? Digging up, restoring and displaying dinosaur
    fossils is no more or less about “human vanity” than resurrecting a
    mammoth from recovered, intact DNA. Moreover, I think it’s fallacious to
    imply that resources allocated to reviving the mammoth equate to
    dollars lost for other ecological/protectionist endeavors. The sheer
    scientific novelty of this project would surely attract a lot of new
    private capital.

  • Michael Sweeney

    a freaking mammoth was discovered incredibly preserved and all y’all can talk about is Leonardo DiCRAPios money and diabetes?? leave that to Wolford Bremley (checkmyspelling) and get back to the mammoth.

  • Bringbackwolly

    It depends on who’s money it is. If an independent researcher drops the cash, then I say go for it.

  • Zicc

    If leonardo wants to visit space with his money he earned what the fuck is it to you or have to do with thus article, #hater

  • Janet Brown

    If all the learned men and women of science made a Diabetes Cure, then all people would be greatly served and millions of people would not have to needlessly have their arms or legs amputated or worse-have the cold breath of death visit them…I pray that these brilliant minds wake up and come to the world’s rescue.

    • SLBushway

      What you wrote sounds so simple and I’m sure it gets you an applause every time you write it – but you do understand that just because they have doctor or scientist before their name that it doesn’t mean that their area of expertise are the same? Besides, there’s no money in a cure – the money rests in the treatment of diabetes. In addition a majority of people through proper diet and exercise can avoid getting diabetes or at best manage it in a way that prevents amputations. You really have to be deeper than a puddle here because life isn’t so simple as “wish all scientists would come together and cure the world”.

    • Sail Trim

      I’ve got a cure for Diabetes…EXERCISE! Put down the remote, step away from the computer, back away from the refrigerator and get outside.

      There, I’ve help cure millions of people and it didn’t require billions in grant money.

      • Seraphim

        Well unless you are born with it and even people who have good exercise habits get it. It is not only about working out.

  • James Brown

    I agree, vanity is where too many items flow forth such as Leonardo DiCrappeo spending a large chunk of money to visit space….vanity is the reason. But if the world wants to really play a part in discovery-MAKE IT A CURE FOR DIABETES…and today before millions more die of this horrible disease.

    • SLBushway

      Leonardo can do whatever he wants with his money who are you to tell him he should only spend it in an area or in a way that you approve? How do you know that he can’t do both?

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