Scientists have extracted liquid blood from a 42,000-year-old foal that was discovered in Siberian permafrost
. Scientists hope they could collect viable cells that can be used to clone this extinct species of horse.
The Lena Horse
The male foal, which experts think belong to the extinct species of horse called the Lenskaya, or Lena breed, was found in the Batagaika depression during an expedition to Yakutia in eastern Siberia in August 2018.
The Lena horse is genetically distinct from the wild horses that now live in the Yakutia region. The now-extinct species roamed the region in the late Pleistocene and is only known from mummified remains found in permafrost.
Extraordinarily Well-Preserved Remains
The permafrost preserved the remains remarkably well, sparking hopes that its cells could be extracted.
Semyon Grigoryev, the head of the Mammoth Museum in Yakutsk, said autopsy revealed well-preserved internal organs. Liquid blood was also extracted from the ancient animal's heart vessels.
"It was preserved in the liquid state for 42,000 years thanks to favourable burial conditions and permafrost," Grigoryev said
. "The muscle tissues preserved their natural reddish colour."
The researchers said that the foal is in an exceptional condition and shows no signs of damage.
Grigoryev said this makes it a rare paleontological find since some are incomplete or fragmented, with serious body deformations, or strongly mummified.
Its hair is intact on the legs, head, and parts of the body. All previous ancient horses were found without hair.
Grigoryev said that the specimen can now be claimed as the best preserved Ice Age animal ever found in the world.
Foal Drowned In A Mud
Analysis of the animal showed it was between 1 to 2 weeks old when it died and just as in many cases of well-reserved remains of prehistoric animals, the foal died drowning in a mud, which then froze and turned into permafrost. The mud and silt that the foal gulped before it died were found inside its gastrointestinal tract.