Discovery will aid in mammoth’s gene map

The discovery of a baby mammoth preserved in the Russian permafrost gives researchers their best chance yet to build a genetic map of a species extinct since the Ice Age.

“It’s a lovely little baby mammoth indeed, found in perfect condition,” said Alexei Tikhonov, deputy director of the Russian Academy of Science’s Zoological Institute, which has been taking care of the mammoth’s corpse since it was uncovered in May.

“This specimen may provide unique material allowing us to ultimately decipher the genetic makeup of the mammoth,” he said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday.

The mammoth, a female who died at the age of 6 months, was dubbed Lyuba, after the wife of reindeer breeder and hunter Yuri Khudi, who found her in Russia’s Arctic Yamalo-Nenets region.

Tikhonov dismissed suggestions that the mammoth could be cloned.

Cloning can only be done if whole cells are intact, but the freezing conditions will have caused the cells to burst, he said.

Source:  Los Angeles Times

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