Despite the yearning of science buffs and Jurassic Park enthusiasts everywhere, humans haven’t quite figured out how to bring extinct species back to life.
With species leaving the planet for good at anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural rate, some scientists might be hoping for some good news on the cloning front. But although they still haven’t figured out whether or not that’s a possibility on the horizon, Siberian scientists made a discovery recently that could change everything we know about prehistoric animal DNA—and could signify a hope for future cloning endeavors.
In August 2018, scientists discovered a mummified foal in the Batagaika crater in Yakutia, northern Russia. The foal, which belongs to a long-extinct species of horse, is estimated to be about 42,000 years old—but despite its impressive age, it holds an incredible secret.
— IFLScience (@IFLScience) April 17, 2019
The foal was just a few weeks old when it died, and it was buried in soft mud that froze with the infant still fully intact. That burial ground was such a “favorable environment,” per scientists, that it kept the horse perfectly preserved both inside and out. Now, scientists have been able to study everything from its hair to organs, which remained in perfect condition—and most importantly, contained still-liquified blood and urine.
There was so much blood left in the horse that scientists were able to collect entire vials from the heart vessels, dubbing it the “oldest blood in the world” and storing it for testing on DNA cloning for the species.
— CNN International (@cnni) April 18, 2019
Он жеребенок🐎 И жил 42 тысячи лет назад😱 Ph: @michilyakovlev2
According to Siberian Times, the ultimate goal is to discover a way to successfully clone the ancient DNA, which will enable them to clone the species using a living species of horse. From there, they can hopefully learn how to clone other prehistoric and extinct animals—including animals like woolly mammoths.
There are still some setbacks, of course. Researchers have made 20 attempts to successfully clone the DNA so far, and haven’t managed to succeed yet. There’s also the matter of whether or not they’ll be able to find similarly viable DNA from other animals they want to clone, even if they do figure out how to achieve their end goal with this foal.
The implications of what they’ve found, though, are huge. The organs inside the foal were all still in such good condition that they’ll make for perfect study, giving scientists a new kingdom’s wealth of information about the species they did discover. It can lead to additional discoveries about evolution and Earth itself, especially if they’re able to determine more about diet, growth, or atmospheric conditions from the organs of the horse.
It’s not quite a T-Rex being held on a theme park island, but for the growth of science, it’s a pretty amazing discovery!