Earlier in the year, we reported that South Korean and Russian scientists were working together to clone a woolly mammoth from bone marrow found in well-preserved remains in the thawed permafrost of Siberia. Now an international team of researchers from Russia’s North-Eastern Federal University has found living cells in mammoth hair, soft tissues and bone marrow uncovered 328 feet (100 meters) underground during a summer expedition in the northeastern province of Yakutia.

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This discovery was the goal of the expedition team, who had hoped to find living cells to proceed in their efforts to clone a mammoth. Previous attempts had relied on bone marrow and other bone fragments which didn’t contain any living cells. Speaking to online Russian newspaper Vzglyad, expedition chief Semyon Grigoryev said Korean scientists were now confirming their discovery.

“Only after thorough laboratory research it will be known whether these are living cells or not,” he said, revealing that the results wouldn’t be made available till the end of the year.

The team have already made massive progress as they have deciphered much of the genetic code of the woolly mammoth from balls of mammoth hair found frozen in the Siberian permafrost. If the Korean team do indeed discover living cells, then they believe that it is possible to clone a mammoth using similar methods to those portrayed in Jurassic Park.

The X Prize Foundation, who awarded a 2004 prize for the first private spacecraft, are currently organizing a “Jurassic Park prize,” for the first scientific team to succeed in recreating an extinct animal. The woolly mammoth is estimated to have become extinct 10,000 years ago when it was over hunted by humans.

via The Telegraph

Images: rpongsaj and goldberg