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The Siberian Times

Scientists start extracting DNA from woolly mammoth found in permafrost

By The Siberian Times reporter
16 March 2015

Samples taken from extinct animal’s leg during international workshop in the hope of one day bringing the hairy creature back from the dead.

Led by the respected Dr Hwang Woo Sul, a professor of the Korean Foundation of Biotechnology Research, the experts took a selection of samples of bone tissue. Picture: YSIA

A team of scientists have gathered in the Russian Far East to examine the partially-preserved remains of a woolly mammoth found two years ago.

Led by the respected Dr Hwang Woo Sul, a professor of the Korean Foundation of Biotechnology Research, the experts took a selection of samples of bone tissue.

Taken from the extinct animal’s left front leg, they will be sent for intensive DNA analysis at a new laboratory in a bid to see how much data about the creature can be extracted.

The gathering at the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk, in the Yakutia, was held as part of a special International Scientific Workshop on the modern methods of working with fossilised remains.

Dr Semyon Grigoriev, the director of the Mammoth Museum in Yakutsk, said: 'We are taking samples of bone marrow - it is one of the best materials for DNA analysis. The process is quite monotonous and requires considerable physical effort.

'Part of the samples will be studied here in in Yakutsk, the other part will be studied abroad. Here we will only extract DNA while the sequencing, as in decoding the sequence of the DNA chain, will be done by our Korean partners.

'If the samples are good then our coordinated work, I think, will allow in a year or two to decipher the world's first nuclear genome of the mammoth. Today the technology allows it.'

Malolyakhovsky mammoth


Malolyakhovsky mammoth

The samples of bone tissue taken from the extinct animal’s left front leg, they will be sent for intensive DNA analysis at a new laboratory. Pictures: YSIA

The remains were discovered in May 2013, having been frozen for about 28,000 years on an Arctic island off the diamond-rich Sakha Republic, the largest region in Russia.

Mammoth blood was also found in the permafrost close to the perfectly-preserved trunk. It is thought the carcass belonged to a female aged between 50 and 60 when she perished.

The samples taken on Monday will be studied in a new laboratory for molecular palaeontology opening on March 17. It is the only one of its kind in Russia and will conduct extensive analysis of the mammoth’s living cells and DNA, as well as do the same with other ancient animals found in the region.

The laboratory at the North-Eastern Federal University was part-funded by partners in Korea, and partly by Tekhnopark Yakutia.

Malolyakhovsky mammoth


Malolyakhovsky mammoth


EXCLUSIVE: Siberian scientists announce they now have a 'high chance' to clone the extinct woolly mammoth

The remains were discovered in May 2013, having been frozen for about 28,000 years on an Arctic island off the diamond-rich Sakha Republic, the largest region in Russia. Pictures: Semyon Grigoriev

Dr Grigoriev said: 'We're doing all this as part of 'the Revival of Mammoth' project, which is being implemented in two ways. Firstly by searching for live cells, culturing them and creating a clone, then secondly by creating artificial living cells based on artificial nucleus DNA.

'While no one knows exactly, presumably a mammoth nuclear DNA is made up of 40million to 45million nucleotides.

'If we will set this whole sequence it will be very great progress for the project of the study and cloning of mammoths, because knowing this sequence, it will be possible in future to synthesize artificial DNA molecule based on artificial nucleus.'

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