Scientists Extracted Liquid Blood From 42,000-Year-Old Foal Found in Siberian Permafrost
Plans for further experimentation aimed at cloning the extinct horse
by Meilan Solly, Smithsonian.com
Last August, a group of mammoth tusk hunters unearthed the nearly intact remains of a 42,000-year-old foal during an expedition to Siberia’s Batagaika crater. Preserved by the region’s permafrost, or permanently frozen ground, the young horse showed no signs of external damage, instead retaining its skin, tail and hooves, as well as the hair on its legs, head and other body parts.
Now, the Siberian Times reports, researchers from Russia’s North-Eastern Federal University and the South Korean Sooam Biotech Research Foundation have extracted liquid blood and urine from the specimen, paving the way for further analysis aimed at cloning the long-dead horse and resurrecting the extinct Lenskaya lineage to which it belongs.
To clone the animal, scientists would need to extract viable cells from the blood samples and grow them in the lab. This task is easier said than done: Over the past month, the team has made more than 20 attempts to grow cells out of the foal’s tissue, but all have failed, according to a separate Siberian Times article. Still, lead Russian researcher Lena Grigoryeva says, those involved remain “positive about the outcome.”
The fact that the horse still has hair makes it one of the most well-preserved Ice Age animals ever found, Grigoryev tells CNN‘s Gianluca Mezzofiore, adding, “Now we can say what color was the wool of the extinct horses of the Pleistocene era.”