Will mammoths roam the earth again?

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Acquired by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in 1922, these jars contain preserved muscle tissue taken from the left hind leg of a woolly mammoth uncovered in 1901 by palaeontologist Eugene Pfizenmayer – though they aren’t on public display.

Pickled Mammoth: Image: Tom Jorstad, Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History The woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) roamed the tundra and steppe grasslands of Europe, Africa, Asia and North America and was thought to have become extinct at the end of the last ice age, 11,000 years ago.

Isolated populations however, persisted on St. Paul Island in Alaska and Wrangel Island in Russia until around 4000 years ago.

Preserved tissues such as these have helped explore how the extinct animals lived, as well as giving clues as to why they died out.

It’s long been a dream of mammoth fans that DNA sequencing of material could one day bring the animal back to life.


Author: Dave Stock | Source: New Scientist [November 25, 2010]


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