According to Semyon Grigoriev, director of the Mammoth Museum of the Northeastern Federal University (NEFU) in Yakutsk, the bodily fluids of the animal were removed during an autopsy and tested in the hope of cloning the extinct species.
Mammoth tusk hunters spotted the old foal embedded in the permafrost of the massive Batagaika crater in the summer of 2018, on a day when the temperature had dropped to -67.8 degrees Celsius.
Grigoriev emailed CNN that the foal was apparently only two weeks old when it died, probably by drowning in the mud, which then became part of the permafrost.
"An autopsy showed that the foal carcass was extremely well preserved, the body without deformation," he added. "The hair cover also kept most parts of the carcass, especially on the head and legs."
The preservation of the fur of the animal was extremely rare, said Grigoriev, adding: "Now we can say what color the wool of the extinct horses of the Pleistocene."
Even rarer is the discovery of liquid blood and urine. Grigoriev said he only knew of another case in which liquid blood was found in a Pleistocene animal that lasted about 2.6 million years ago until about 11,700 years ago. It was in the frozen carcass of an adult mammoth that Grigoriev's team had discovered in May 2013 on Little Lyakhovsky Island off the northeast coast of Russia.
"In the fossil remains of animals of the Ice Age, the blood usually coagulates or even becomes powder, even though the carcass appears to have been preserved," explained Grigoriev. "That's because of mummification, when moisture and other biological fluids gradually evaporate over millennia, even if the remains are in permafrost, and the remains are best preserved when they're in ice, as was the case with our mammoth. "
Grigoriev said NEFU specialists had worked with experts from the controversial South Korean Sooam Biotech Research Foundation to cultivate the foal's cells for cloning, although he was pessimistic about their chances.
Sooam is led by scientist Hwang Woo-suk, who claimed in 2004 that he had successfully cloned human embryonic stem cells before admitting that he had falsified his findings.
"I think that even the unique conservation [of] Blood is absolutely hopeless for cloning purposes because the main blood cells – the red blood cells or erythrocytes – have no nuclei with DNA, "said Grigoriev [are] try to find intact cells in muscle tissue and internal organs, which are also very well preserved. "
The old horse will be exhibited from June to September 2020 as part of the exhibition The Mammoth throughout Japan.