Krasnoyarsk biologists to restore genome of mammoth that died 43,000 years ago
Biologists from the Siberian Federal University (SFU) plan to examine soft tissue from the Maly Lyahovsky mammoth that died 43,000 years ago and, after checking the integrity of the DNA, assemble the complete genome of the ancient animal, they told Sib.fm’s correspondent on 18 March.
Natalya Oreshkova, coordinator of the SFU Research and Educational Centre for Genome Research, told Sib.fm’s correspondent that half a well-preserved mammoth carcass was found in 2013 on Maly Lyakhovsky island in Yakutia.
Scientists were able to find not only bone, but also soft tissue: the two front legs, one hind leg, chest, ear, trunk, lower lip and some internal organs. Doctors at the North-Eastern Federal University were the first in the world to identify blood cells and determine the mammoth’s haemoglobin. According to the university website, this discovery made it possible to clone the mammoth, which is being attempted in cooperation with Korean biotechnology research fund Sooam.
According to Oreshkova, genome research will be carried out at SFU — biologists plan to clarify the integrity of the DNA and assemble the genome of the mammoth, which has been dated to around 43,000 years.
«We already know that it was quite an elderly lady — about 50 to 80 years old. She died a tragic death when she fell into a crevice and broke a rib, which damaged a large blood vessel, and then bled to death,» said Oreshkova.
«Maybe she fell into a stream, and the water gradually covered the front part of the carcass, then immediately froze, which is why it was so well preserved,» she added.
SFU biologists will study muscle tissue from the forelimbs and trunk, hair with pieces of skin, a piece of rib, a piece of a hollowed-out bone with traces of marrow, lymph nodes, and pieces of the stomach and liver. Studies will begin in a month or two and last at least six months.
The researcher added that an assembly of the mammoth’s mitochondrial genome already exists, as well as a small partial assembly of the nuclear genome, «but it’s low quality and we hope that we can improve it».
On 25 February, an exhibition featuring the oldest stegosaurus skeleton in the world was opened at the Krasnoyarsk Local History Museum. It was found 10 years ago in a coal mine near the town of Sharypovo in the Krasnoyarsk Territory and museum staff said that it is 165-170 million years old. The museum and newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda arranged a competition to find the best name for the dinosaur in time for the opening — the Stegosaurus was named «Yurashka».