Researchers who found the body of a 42,000-year-old foal frozen in the Siberian permafrost have retrieved liquid blood from the extinct animal that might help bring its species back to life, media outlets reported on Tuesday.
According to The Siberian Times, a group of scientists from Russia and South Korea wants to clone an extinct horse species by extracting DNA from the frozen remains of a foal that died 42,170 years ago in Siberia. The foal's body was found in the permafrost of a Siberian crater called Batagaika in Russia’s republic of Sakha, and was found to be part of the Lenskaya breed which went extinct about 4,000 years ago.
“Samples of liquid blood were taken from [the foal’s] heart vessels,” Dr. Semyon Grigoryev, a leading researcher at the Mammoth Museum in Yakutsk, told the state-run TASS news agency.
An intact, non-deformed and not heavily mummified paleontological find such as this is “extremely rare,” Grigoryev said.
The permafrost and favorable burial conditions also helped preserve the animal’s internal organs and a natural reddish color of its muscle tissues, he added.
“Having preserved hair is another scientific sensation as all previous ancient horses were found without hair,” Grigoryev said.
The team has attempted to extract cells from the foal to create a cloned embryo. If successful, the embryo would be implanted in a South Korean horse. Scientists are also considering using a Yakut horse, an eastern Siberian breed, as a surrogate mother.
The same scientists are reported to be working on restoring to life the giant woolly mammoth.
The foal’s well-preserved remains will be on display for a year at a mammoth exhibition in Japan starting in June, The Siberian Times reported.
Reuters contributed reporting to this article.