strange behaviors

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  • Richard Conniff writes about behavior, in humans and other animals, on two, four, six, and eight legs, plus the occasional slither.

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Mammoth Blood, Yes. Cloning? Not So Fast.

Posted by Richard Conniff on May 30, 2013

WoollyMammoth_0There’s nothing quite like fresh blood on the ice to stir excitement in the journalistic community, especially when it’s the blood of an extinct mammoth. It’s an irresistible leap of the imagination to the idea of Jurassic Park-style cloning, and the vision of extinct giants rumbling out of the Ice Age into the modern world. Mix in an element of the Asian wildlife-trafficking mafia in hot pursuit of ivory—from animals now living, or very, very dead—and you have a story.

But let’s stick with the facts, for now.

The blood turned up earlier this month when a team of Russian paleontologists began to excavate a newly discovered carcass of a female mammoth on the Lyakhovsky Islands, off the north coast of central Siberia.

“The lower part of the body was resting in nearly pure ice, and the upper part was found in the middle of the tundra,” team leader Semyon Grigoriev told a Russian newspaper.

The temperature was -10 Celsius (about 14 degrees Fahrenheit) and the researchers were working around the carcass with a poll pick, a miner’s tool like a crowbar. Suddenly, they hit a pocket underneath the ice, and to their amazement, liquid blood came flowing out …    To read the rest of this story click here.

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