Category Archives: RUSSIA

14,000-Year-Old Ancestor of Native Americans Identified in Russia

14,000-Year-Old Ancestor of Native Americans Identified in Russia

Since the Upper Paleolithic, modern humans have lived near Baikal Lake, and left a rich archeological record behind.

Russian archaeologists in 1976 excavating the Ust’-Kyakhta-3 site on the banks of the Selenga River

The region’s ancient genomes also uncovered multiple genetic turnovers and admixture events, indicating that the transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age was facilitated by human mobility and complex cultural interactions. The nature and timing of these interactions, however, remains largely unknown.

The reports of 19 newly sequenced human genomes, including one of the oldest ones recorded by the area of Lake Baikal, are presently in a new study published in the journal Cell.

Led by the Department of Archaeogenetics at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, the study illuminates the population history of the region, revealing deep connections with the First Peoples of the Americas, dating as far back as the Upper Paleolithic period, as well as connectivity across Eurasia during the Early Bronze Age.

The deepest link between peoples

“This study reveals the deepest link between Upper Paleolithic Siberians and First Americans,” says He Yu, the first author of the study. “We believe this could shed light on future studies about Native American population history.”

Past studies have indicated a connection between Siberian and American populations, but a 14,000-year-old individual analyzed in this study is the oldest to carry the mixed ancestry present in Native Americans.

Using an extremely fragmented tooth excavated in 1976 at the Ust-Kyahta-3 site, researchers generated a shotgun-sequenced genome enabled by cutting edge techniques in molecular biology.

A fragmented tooth belonging to a close cousin of today’s Native Americans

This individual from southern Siberia, along with a younger Mesolithic one from northeastern Siberia, shares the same genetic mixture of Ancient North Eurasian (ANE) and Northeast Asian (NEA) ancestry found in Native Americans and suggests that the ancestry which later gave rise to Native Americans in North- and South America was much more widely distributed than previously assumed.

Evidence suggests that this population experienced frequent genetic contacts with NEA populations, resulting in varying admixture proportions across time and space.

“The Upper Paleolithic genome will provide a legacy to study human genetic history in the future,” says Cosimo Posth, a senior author of the paper. Further genetic evidence from Upper Paleolithic Siberian groups is necessary to determine when and where the ancestral gene pool of Native Americans came together.

A web of prehistoric connections

In addition to this transcontinental connection, the study presents connectivity within Eurasia as evidenced in both human and pathogen genomes as well as stable isotope analysis.

Combining these lines of evidence, the researchers were able to produce a detailed description of the population history in the Lake Baikal region.

The presence of Eastern European steppe-related ancestry is evidence of contact between southern Siberian and western Eurasian steppe populations in the preamble to the Early Bronze Age, an era characterized by increasing social and technological complexity. The surprising presence of Yersinia pestis, the plague-causing pathogen, points to further wide-ranging contacts.

Recent view on the Selenga River close to the archeological site Ust-Kyakhta-3

Although spreading of Y. pestis was postulated to be facilitated by migrations from the steppe, the two individuals here identified with the pathogen were genetically northeastern Asian-like. Isotope analysis of one of the infected individuals revealed a non-local signal, suggesting origins outside the region of discovery.

In addition, the strains of Y. pestis the pair carried is most closely related to a contemporaneous strain identified in an individual from the Baltic region of northeastern Europe, further supporting the high mobility of those Bronze age pathogens and likely also people.

“This easternmost appearance of ancient Y. pestis strains is likely suggestive of long-range mobility during the Bronze Age,” says Maria Spyrou, one of the study’s co-authors.

“In the future, with the generation of additional data we hope to delineate the spreading patterns of plague in more detail,” concludes Johannes Krause, senior author of the study.   

First Greek Helmet Discovered North of the Black Sea in Russia

First Greek Helmet Discovered North of the Black Sea in Russia

The agency RIA Novosti reported that a Corinthian helmet was found in a grave dated from the 5th century BC in the Taman Peninsula, south-west of Russia. It is the only such helmet found from the north of the Black Sea.

Helmet of Corinthian type, found in the necropolis

Corroded after 2500 years of burial and thus highly fragmented, its discovery remains still impressive.

Corinthian helmets made of bronze covered the whole head and neck with eye and mouth slits and protruding cheek covers (paragnathides).

The neck nape was covered by a broad, curved projection. For protecting the warrior’s head the interior was padded with fabric or leather.

The helmets were often surmounted by a crest (lophos) with a plume of horse hair. Highly protective because they protected the head completely, these helmets provided an important piece of equipment for the Greek hoplites, the famous phalanx foot soldiers.

Corinthian helmets originated in Greece around the 6th century BC and are one of ancient Greece’s trademarks. Also portrayed wearing them are the goddess Athena, or Pericles.

General view of the burial of the Greek warrior

When a warrior died, his helmets would be buried next to him. According to Roman Mimohod, director of the expedition of the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IA RAS), “the Taman peninsula helmet belongs to the Corinthian Hermione-type and would date back to the first quarter of the fifth century BC.”

Archaeologists of the Russian Academy of Sciences have been working for two years in a necropolis of 600 burial mounds where many Greek warriors of the Bosporus kingdom are buried.

Several Greek colonies were indeed present in this region. Their settlement extends from the end of the 7th century BC until the second quarter of the 4th century BC.

“These settlements were in very close contact with the Scythian inhabitants of the steppe,” says historian Iraoslav Lebedynsky, specialist of these ancient Eurasian cultures. From the 6th century BC, the Greeks founded large cities on the northern coast of the Black Sea.

Amphora found in burial

The main ones were Olbia, at the mouth of the Dnieper; Panticapaion, today’s Kerch, in the extreme west of the Crimea, and Chersonese (Sevastopol); on the Russian bank, one found Phanagoria (Taman), also the name given to the peninsula on which the Corinthian helmet was discovered.

Created in 480 BC around the Kerch Strait and the Taman Peninsula, west of the Bosporus, this kingdom which had Panticapaion as its capital lasted almost a thousand years, the last written traces going back to the 5th century AD.

A place of synthesis between the Greek culture and the successive nomadic cultures of the steppe, be it the Scythians or the Sarmatians.

Between the 6th and 3rd centuries BC, Greeks and Scythians maintained extremely close cultural as well as commercial relations.

The mystery of unique 2,100-year-old human clay head – with a ram’s skull inside

The mystery of unique 2,100-year-old human clay head – with a ram’s skull inside

According to a report in The Siberian Times, a team of researchers led by Natalia Polosmak of the Russian Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography and Konstantin Kuper of the Institute of Nuclear Physics used fluoroscopy to examine a head-shaped sculpture crafted by the Tagar culture more than 2,000 years ago.

The clay head, which resembles a young man, was discovered among about 15 sets of cremated human remains in a Shestakovsky burial mound in eastern Siberia in 1968. X-rays made of the artifact at the time revealed a small skull within the sculpture.

The Martynov brothers noted in 1971 that “there are skull bones and a narrow hollow space which, however, does not correspond to the inner size of the human skull but is much smaller,’ Then – and later – opening the clay head was deemed impossible since it would destroy this ancient relic. 

‘It was suggested that there was a human skull inside. It was of course quite surprising to see instead a sheep’s skull.’

Four decades later scientists returned to this man’s mystery from the Tagar culture, renowned for his elaborate funeral rites, e.g. the use of large pit crypts containing some 200 bodies which were set ablaze.  As scientist Dr. Elga Vadetskaya had observed, the heads of the dead were covered in clay, moulding a new face on the skull, and often covering the clay face with gypsum.  So the expectation was – in deploying new technology on the man’s death mask – that the bones inside, though small fragments, would be human.

But they were not. 

The research was led by Professor Natalya Polosmak, from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, and Dr. Konstantin Kuper, of the Institute of Nuclear Physics, both in Novosibirsk, and part of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 

The man ‘could have got lost in the taiga, drowned, or disappeared in alien lands’.
The man ‘could have got lost in the taiga, drowned, or disappeared in alien lands’.

‘I had been working with Natalya Polosmak on other research, and she suggested checking this head because they could not simply look inside – and were puzzled,’ explained Dr. Kuper.  ‘It was suggested that there was a human skull inside. It was of course quite surprising to see instead a sheep’s skull.’


What made these ancient people fill human remains with a ram’s remains?

In the article for the magazine Science First Hand Professor Polosmak offers two options but also acknowledges that ‘as this is the only such case so far, any explanations of this phenomenon will undoubtedly contain, alongside the elements of uniqueness, elements of chance’. She believes the Tagar people ‘may have buried in this extraordinary manner a man whose body had not been found’.

Professor Anatoly Martynov unearthed the head in 1968 in Khakassia.
Professor Anatoly Martynov unearthed the head in 1968 in Khakassia.

She surmises that the man ‘could have got lost in the taiga, drowned, or disappeared in alien lands’. For this reason, he was ‘replaced with his double – the animal in which his soul was embodied’ and in this was sent to the afterlife alongside the remains of his fellow humans.

‘This must have been the only way to ensure the after-death life of a person who had not returned home.

‘Archaeologists know a number of such burials, referred to as cenotaphs, which have no human remains but may contain a symbolic replacement. As the latter, an animal could have been used.’ Her other theory for the ‘false burial’ is that it may have been done to give the man ‘a chance to have a fresh start, a new life in a new status.

Clay head prepared for fluoroscopy at the Institute of Nuclear Physics, SB RAS.
Clay head prepared for fluoroscopy at the Institute of Nuclear Physics, SB RAS.

‘Instead of a living man whose death was staged for some reason, an animal – a sheep in human disguise – was offered.’

One thing is clear: for ancient people the ram had a great significance. 

‘What does the sheep’s skull hidden under the clay covers depicting a man’s face tell us? What is it, an accident? Or was the animal the main hero of ancient history?

‘The latter hypothesis seems justified. A ram (sheep) is among the most worshipped animals of old times. Initially, the Egyptian god Khnum was depicted as a ram (later, as a man with the head of a ram).’

Remains of 200 mummified bodies found in one of the Tagar burial mounds at Belaya Gora.

A third version has been proposed by Dr. Vadetskaya in her book ‘The Ancient Yenisei Masks from Siberia’  after studying elaborate burial rites of ancient people during this Tesinsk period. Her work was based on the research of other archaeologists but also had fascinating input from forensic experts. She believed the burial rite had two stages – the first of which was putting the dead body in a ‘stone box’ which then went into a shallow grave or under a pile of stones for several years. The main goal was partial mummification – the skin and tissues decomposed, but tendons and the spinal cord persisted. 

Then the skeleton was taken away intact and was tied by small branches. The skull was trepanned and the rest of the brain was removed. Then the skeleton was turned into a kind of ‘doll’ – it was wrapped around with grass and sheathed with pieces of leather and birch bark. Then, according to Dr. Vadetskaya, they reconstructed ‘the face’ on the skull. The nose hole, eyes socket, and mouth were filled with clay, then the clay was put onto the skull and the ‘face’ was moulded though without necessarily much facial resemblance to the deceased. 

Often this clay face was covered with a thin layer of gypsum and painted with ornaments.  She suspected that these masked mummies went back to their families pending their second, bigger funeral.  This might have been for some years: there is evidence that gypsum was repaired and repainted. 

Faces molded on the skulls were often covered with a thin gypsum layer painted with ornaments.

She wrote: ‘For some mummies, the wait was too long. The decomposed, so only the heads were left to be buried.  ‘In some cases, even the head did not survive. Then they had to recreate the whole image of the deceased one.’

She believed that this was the case with the mysterious human sheep skull. The ram remains were used to replace the real human skull of this ‘mummy doll’ lost or destroyed during the decades between the two funeral rites.  According to Vadetskaya, a large pit was dug for these ‘Big’ funerals. A log house was erected and covered with birch bark and fabrics.  Many such human remains were put inside, and the log house was with the remains of dead were ignited.  The log house was partly burned down and often the roof collapsed.  The pit-crypt burial was then covered with turf and earth and formed a mound. 

In this particular case, there were relatively few human remains – no more than 15, yet in others, the number could rise into the hundreds. 

So – there are three main theories. 

Perhaps future scientists will gain access to more elaborate technology to examine this death mask and unlock more secrets about this extraordinary find.

Scientists Reveal a Perfectly Preserved 18,000-year-old Puppy Discovered Frozen in Russia

Scientists Reveal a Perfectly Preserved 18,000-year-old Puppy Discovered Frozen in Russia

An ancient dog finds in Russia in the Far East that he lived a glorious eighteen thousand years ago. It was found last year in a frozen mud near the city of Yakutsk in Siberia and has been given the affectionate name of “Dogor”.

Researchers carefully cleaned the specimen to reveal it was still mostly covered in fur

More surprising is that it is unusually good with intact fur, skin, whiskers, and eyelashes. It might look just like a sleeping old dog to the casual viewer!

The Russian Wolfhound, also known as the Borzoi breed, is a special dog of tremendous speed, known for the rather remote appearance, associated with Russia.

A quick online search showed that in Russia other dogs mixed wolves with hundreds of massive beast dogs that have been domesticated by patient owners. The owners insist these dogs are half-wolf; whether they’ve been genetically proven to be so is another matter.

That is what scientists believe they have found buried deep in the ice in the Far East reaches of Siberia; an almost perfectly preserved specimen that even retains its fur.

As yet, experts have not determined whether the animal is dog or wolf, but that riddle, they say, is half the fun of the quest. One thing is for sure, it looks like a puppy and perhaps is an evolutionary cross between wolf and dog.

The prehistoric puppy’s teeth, nose, the fur are all incredibly intact.

A piece of the puppy’s bone was immediately shipped off to Stockholm’s Centre for Paleogenetics to determine just what scientists were looking at.

They have determined the animal is 18,000 years old and is preserved perfectly, thanks to the ice in which it was buried.

The pup still has its whiskers, eyelashes, and nose intact.

“We have now generated a nearly complete genome sequence from it and normally when you have two-fold coverage genome, which is what we have, you should be able to relatively easily say whether it’s a dog or a wolf, but we still can’t say, and that makes it even more interesting,” said Love Dalen, professor of evolutionary genetics at the centre.

Whatever the animal’s true ancestry turns out to be, the remains now have a name that applies in either case: Dogor, which is Yakutian for a friend.

Dogor remains are now kept at a private facility, the Northern World Museum. Museum director Nikolai Androsov said, at Dogor’s unveiling to the media, “this puppy has all its limbs…even whiskers.

The nose is visible. There are teeth. We can determine due to some data that it is male” he said at the presentation of Dogor at Yakutsk’s famed Mammoth Museum, which specializes in ancient remains and specimens.

How the prehistoric puppy perished is so far unknown, although scientists do know he was just eight weeks old. Researchers will no doubt continue testing to learn all they can about the fascinating creature.

Russia’s the Far East has provided many incredible finds and animal remains for scientists who study ancient animals in recent years.

Buried deep within Siberia’s permafrost, remains of woolly mammoths, canines and other prehistoric animals are being discovered whenever the ice melts. Mammoth tusk hunters are oftentimes the ones who discover them.

Who knows? One day Dogor the prehistoric puppy may become part of a Russian children’s story, or the basis of a movie. He has already joined other furry, famous canines in getting worldwide attention.

Three Well-Preserved Ancient Boats Unearthed in Serbia

Probable Roman shipwrecks unearthed at a Serbian coal mine

Uryadovy Courier reported that coal miners in Serbia recently dug up an unexpected surprise: three probable Roman-era ships, buried in the mud of an ancient riverbed for at least 1,300 years.

The largest is a flat-bottomed river vessel 15 meters long, which seems to have been built with Roman techniques. Two smaller boats, each carved out from a single tree trunk, match ancient descriptions of dugout boats used by Slavic groups to row across the Danube River and attack the Roman frontier.

The Kostolac surface mine lies near the ancient Roman city of Viminacium, once a provincial capital and the base for a squadron of Roman warships on the Danube River.

When the Roman Empire ruled most of Southern Europe, the Danube or one of its larger branches flowed across the land now occupied by the mine.

The three ships lay atop a 15-meter- (49-foot-) deep layer of gravel, buried under seven meters (23 feet) of silt and clay, which preserved them for centuries in remarkably good condition—or did until the miners’ earthmoving equipment dug into the steep slope to excavate for the mine.

“The [largest] ship was seriously damaged by the mining equipment,” archaeologist Miomir Korac, director of the Archaeological Institute and head of the Viminacium Science Project, told Ars in an email. “Approximately 35 percent to 40 percent of the ship was damaged.

But the archaeological team collected all the parts, and we should be able to reconstruct it almost in full.” With any luck, that reconstruction will help archaeologists understand when the three ships were built and how they came to rest in the riverbed.

Social distancing makes it hard to get a date

The large ship had a single deck with at least six pairs of oars, along with fittings for a type of triangular sail called a lateen sail. It would have carried a crew of 30 to 35 sailors, and apparently it had a lengthy career: traces of repairs to the hull suggest a ship with some miles under it. Iron nails and other iron fittings held the ship’s timbers and planks together, and they’ve survived for centuries thanks to the silt and clay that sealed the ship away from oxygen and microbes.

By contrast, the dugout longboats were much simpler craft. Korac described them as “rudimentary,” although one had carved decorations on its hull.

Although elements of the largest ship’s construction are Roman, Korac says those same shipbuilding techniques may also have been used by later Byzantine or medieval shipwrights. Without radiocarbon dating or geological analysis of the sediment layers at the site, it’s impossible to be entirely sure when the ships were built. Korac and his colleagues have sent wood samples from preserved oak trees buried nearby to a lab for analysis, but the COVID-19 pandemic has held everything up.

“Coronavirus is setting all actions now,” he told Ars.

But the odds are in favor of the Kostolac ship being Roman in origin. Historical documents don’t mention any ports or other navigation infrastructure in the area after Viminacium fell to invading groups in the 600s CE. If that’s the case, then these three ships, wrecked together in the former bed of the Danube, may record a snapshot of either commerce or conflict on the Roman frontier.

Fight, flight, or founder?

Given the site’s proximity to the Roman naval base at Viminacium, it’s tempting to imagine a battle on the Danube between a Roman warship and attacking Slavic fighters in dugout longboats. Historical sources don’t mention any river battles near Kostolac, but they do mention a couple of battles further upriver, near the Roman ports of Singidunum and Sirmium.

But while there’s no evidence to rule out the idea of dueling river warships in a fight to the death, there’s no evidence pointing to a battle, either. None of the vessels has any trace of fire or other combat damage, and nothing about the largest ship conclusively identifies it as a warship rather than an ordinary river transport. The ship’s crew left no personal belongings or artifacts aboard; there’s just the ship and its fittings, beautifully preserved but perfectly empty.

“The lack of finds prevents us from identifying the boat without further analyses,” Korac told Ars.

On the other hand, the dugout longboats, called monoxylons, were something like landing craft. “A monoxylon is not a combat ship. It is just a way to cross the river and invade on land,” Korac told Ars. “Facing larger ships, monoxylons could be easily defeated, as it is testified in sources from [the] 6th century mentioning a Roman fleet from Singidunum repelling barbarian attacks on the Roman Empire.”

Korac suggested one possible scenario for the shipwrecks: “The ships were either abandoned or evacuated. They did not sink suddenly with cargo,” he told Ars. “If these happened during the barbarian invasion and withdrawal of Roman troops, the ship could be abandoned and sunken in order not to fall into the hands of the enemy.”

For now, further excavations and analysis are on hold, but all three shipwrecks have been relocated to the nearby archaeological park.

Check out this striking 25,000-year-old hut built out of mammoth bones

Check out this striking 25,000-year-old hut built out of mammoth bones

Dr. Alexander J.E. Pryor, an archeological postdoctoral researcher at Southampton University, has recently published a research paper from Cambridge University Press.

The members of his team claiming they have found the oldest man-made structure in Russia about three hundred miles from Moscow. No one knows for certain why it was built.

Kostenki 11 is a large bone circle built during the Upper Paleolithic era, over 40,000 years ago. It’s located within the Kostyonki–Borshchyovo archaeological complex in the Khokholsky District, Voronezh Oblast, Russia.

Close up of the structure, featuring long bones, a lower jaw (top middle) and articulated vertebrae.

The majority of the bones in the circle and the remnants of a bone hut were made from woolly mammoths, but bones from Arctic foxes, reindeer, bears, wolves, and horses have also been found, the findings were published in the journal Antiquity.

The archaeological site was discovered in 1951, but little work was done there until the 1960s when the first bone circle was discovered.

In 1970, another mammoth bone structure and a pit were discovered about sixty feet from the circle. Another five feet away is the newly discovered bone hut that is about forty-one feet in diameter and sits on a gradual slope.

The circle has no break for an entrance, but just outside are three small pits where burnt bones, ivory, and charcoal were found. They were carbon-dated to around twenty-five thousand years old.

Dwelling made with mammoth bones. Reconstruction based on the example of Mezhirich. Exhibit in the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo, Japan

Some scientists believe the shelter may have been covered with animal skins, but Dr. Pryor does not believe it was a living abode as all of the common artifacts usually found among dwellings were absent.

According to The Independent, some researchers have suggested structures such as this might have been ritual monuments.

There is, however, no evidence for this conclusion. Another factor is that some of the bones were still stuck together indicating there was still animal material on them when they were stacked.

This would have been not only smelly but very dangerous, as it would attract predators.

The mammoth bone structure discovered.

Circular bone features such as this have been found in about twenty-five different locations in the Ukraine and Russia but none are as old as Kostenki 11, which is still being studied.

Built at the end of the last ice age when winters were long and harsh, reaching twenty degrees below zero on average, by the humans that didn’t travel south to escape the cold, Dr. Pryor believes the hut may have been used for food storage, as a garbage dump that would keep scavengers away from their living area, or even for rituals of some sort.

The Mammoth Bones structure seen from above

Evidence of tool usage including percussion rocks and striking platforms were found as well as over fifty small seeds that had been partially burned leading researchers to wonder if they were from native plants growing around the area or from plants that had been collected and brought to the site for consumption.

Three other pits in the same area tested exactly the same as the materials found at the bone hut according to Dr. Pryor’s research paper on Cambridge Core.

Dr. Pryor stated that Kostenki 11 is a rare site where scientists can learn more about hunter-gatherers in the Paleolithic era and how they survived in such a harsh climate, the height of the last ice age.

The site is providing information as to what places like this may have been used for. He notes that the people of that time used ingenuity in finding ways to survive using the materials available in their ice age environment.

Dr. E. James Dixon, emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of New Mexico, is quoted by saying that this is a “fascinating time period in Eurasian archaeology” and the study “clearly demonstrates that modern humans were adapted to higher latitudes at the very height of the last ice age.”

A Mysterious 25,000-Year-Old Structure Built of the Bones of 60 Mammoths

A Mysterious 25,000-Year-Old Structure Built of the Bones of 60 Mammoths

Mysterious bone circles consisting of hundreds of mammoths bones helped scientists understand how people survived the last ice age. According to a new analysis, the bones at one location in Russia were more than 20,000 years old.

25,000-year-old mammoth bone structure, Kostenki, Russia: 12.5 meters in diameter

The wall of the 30 ft building was constructed using a combination of 51 lower jaws and 64 individual mammoth skulls. There were also a small number of reindeers, goats, rabbits, dogs, red foxes, and arctic fox bones.

Researchers said the bones were most likely sourced from animal graveyards.

In the site, which is situated near the current village of Kostenki, some 500 km south of Moscow, an archeologist from Exeter University discovered remains of charred wood and other soft non-woody plants.

It indicates that people used to burn wood as well as bones for fuel, and the communities who lived there had learned where to forage for edible plants during the Ice Age.

Dr. Alexander Pryor, who led the study, said: “Kostenki 11 represents a rare example of Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers living on in this harsh environment.

“What might have brought ancient hunter-gatherers to this site?

“One possibility is that the mammoths and humans could have come to the area en masse because it had a natural spring that would have provided unfrozen liquid water throughout the winter – rare in this period of extreme cold.

“These finds shed new light on the purpose of these mysterious sites.

“Archaeology is showing us more about how our ancestors survived in this desperately cold and hostile environment at the climax of the last Ice Age.

“Most other places at similar latitudes in Europe had been abandoned by this time, but these groups had managed to adapt to find food, shelter, and water.”

The last Ice Age swept northern Europe between 75-18,000 years ago and reached its coldest and most severe state around 23-18,000 years ago.

Most communities fled the region, likely due to a lack of prey to hunt and scarce plant resources they depended upon for survival, the scientists said.

The bone circles, of which more than 70 are known to exist in Ukraine and the west Russian planes, were eventually abandoned as the climate grew colder and more inhospitable.

Archaeologists previously assumed the circular mammoth bone structures were used as dwellings, but the new study, published in the journal Antiquity, suggests this may not always have been the case.

Liquid Blood Extracted From 42,000-Year-Old Foal Found Frozen in Siberia

Scientists Extracted Liquid Blood From 42,000-Year-Old Foal Found in Siberian Permafrost

On an expedition to the Batagaika crater in Siberia a team of Mammoth tusk hunters uncovered the nearly preserved remains of a 42,000-year-old foal.

Instead, the young foal showed no signs of external damage, retaining its fur, tail and hooves and the hair on its leg and head, has preserved by the permafrost of the region or permanently frozen ground.

The Siberian Times reports that Russia’s North-Eastern Federal University and the Biotech sooam researcher in South Korea extracted 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.

Scientists will take viable cells from the blood samples and grow them in the laboratory in order to clone the animal. Perhaps they will consider looking at SciQuip’s range of incubators to stimulate the growth of the cells.

Over the past month, scientists have made more than 20 unsuccessful attempts to extract viable cells from the foal’s tissue (Semyon Grigoryev/North-Eastern Federal University)

This task is harder said than done. More than 20 attempts to grow cells from foal’s tissue have been made by the team over the past month, but they were all unsuccessful, according to a recent report from the Siberian Times. Russian researcher Lena Grigoryeva said that the participants 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.”

In life, the foal boasted a bay-colored body and a black tail and mane. Aged just one to two weeks old at the time of his death, the young Lenskaya, or Lena horse, met the same untimely demise as many similarly intact animals trapped in permafrost for millennia.

The scientists extracted liquid blood samples from the 42,000-year-old animal’s heart vessels (Semyon Grigoryev/North-Eastern Federal University)

The foal likely drowned in a “natural trap” of sorts-namely, mud that later froze into permafrost, Semyon Grigoryev of Yakutia’s Mammoth Museum told Russian news agency TASS, as reported by the Siberian Times.

“A lot of mud and silt which the foal gulped during the last seconds of the foal’s life were found inside its gastrointestinal tract,” Grigoryev says.

Researchers collect liquid blood from the ice age foal found frozen in Siberian permafrost.

This is only the second time researchers have extracted liquid blood from the remains of prehistoric creatures. In 2013, a group of Russian scientists accomplished the same feat using the body of a 15,000-year-old female woolly mammoth discovered by Grigoryev and his colleagues in 2013, as George Dvorsky reports for Gizmodo.

(It’s worth noting that the team studying the foal has also expressed hopes of cloning a woolly mammoth.) Significantly, the foal’s blood is a staggering 27,000 years older than this previous sample.

The NEFU and South Korean scientists behind the new research are so confident of their success that they have already begun searching for a surrogate mare to carry the cloned Lena horse and, in the words of the Siberian Times, fulfill “the historic role of giving birth to the comeback species.”

It’s worth noting, however, that any acclaim is premature and, as Dvorsky writes, indicative of the “typical unbridled enthusiasm” seen in the Russian news outlet’s reports.

Speaking with CNN’s Mezzofiore, Grigoryev himself expressed doubts about the researcher’s chances, explaining, “I think that even the unique preservation of blood is absolutely hopeless for cloning purposes since the main blood cells … do not have nuclei with DNA.”

He continued, “We are trying to find intact cells in muscle tissue and internal organs that are also very well-preserved.”

What the Siberian Times fails to address are the manifold “ethical and technological” questions raised by reviving long-gone species. Among other concerns, according to Dvorsky, scientists have cited the clone’s diminished quality of life, issues of genetic diversity and inbreeding, and the absence of an adequate Ice Age habitat.

It remains to be seen whether the Russian-South Korean team can actually deliver on its ambitious goal. Still, if the purported July 2018 resurrection of two similarly aged 40,000-year-old roundworms “defrosted” after millennia in the Arctic permafrost is any indication, the revival of ancient animals is becoming an increasingly realistic possibility.