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Liquid blood extracted from a 42,000 year old foal

42 000 year old foal found in Siberia. Credits: Semyon Grigoryev / NEFU

A team of researchers announced they have managed to extract samples of liquid blood from a 42,000 year old foal.  The frozen animal was found in Siberia last year.  

In August 2018 a team of researchers from the North East Federal University (Russia) and Kindai University (Japan) announced the discovery of a mummified foul.  Found  in the permafrost of the Batagaï crater in Siberia, this place known by paleontologists as a site for prehistoric bones especially mammoth tusks.  After an analysis of the body, researchers discovered that this two week old foul died around 42,000 years ago.

Semoyon Grigoryev, director of the Yakutsk Mammoth Museum declared that the autopsy of the foal had shown “magnificently well preserved organs“. Hi interview conducted by the Russian press agency TASS was shared in the Siberian Times. The researcher also stated that the foal’s fur was also well preserved due to the permafrost.  This discovery is the first for this type of animal.  It appears that only a few days after it’s birth, the foal already had light coat, black mane and tail.

As for the cause of death, researchers suggest that the animal unfortunately drowned in the mud.  “Large quantities of swallowed mud and lime duing the last seconds of its life were found in the gastrointestinal tract,” according to the study.

Are there any hopes for cloning?

At the time of the discovery, researchers hoped to find viable cells so that they could create a possible clone of this species, known as Lenskaya. Let’s take a further look into this idea.  According to the Siberian Times researchers have managed to extract blood samples from the heart vessels of the young foal.  In fact these vessels seems to have been well preserved.  However it remains to be seen whether viable cells could be developed from the collected blood.

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A blood sample collected from the 42,000 year old foal. Credits: North-Eastern Federal University

If such a day should arrive, researchers will have to find a substitute mare to give birth to the foal.  It would be the only representation of a species that disappeared several thousand years ago. However as well as the inherent technical difficulties linked to this type of mission, there would also be many ethical difficulties  This could include the deterioration of the cloned animal’s quality of life which it would undoubtedly have to endure.  This collaboration is the same Russian Korean team currently looking into cloning a Woolly Mammoth.

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