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Mammoth Blood Brought Back to Life

Illustration for article titled Mammoth Blood Brought Back to Life

Using ancient DNA from Siberian specimens, a team of Australian researchers have managed to resurrect the proteins of mammoth blood and figure out precisely how they survived such a hostile environment.

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Professor Alan Cooper, director of the Australian Center for Ancient DNA at the University of Adelaide, was the co-author of a study published in Nature Genetics that explained how they used modern bacteria to recreate woolly mammoth hemoglobin:

"It is the same as if we went back 30,000 years and stuck a needle into a living mammoth.... This is true palaeobiology, as we can study and measure how these animals functioned as if they were alive today."

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Cooper's team discovered that mammoth blood functioned as a sort of anti-freeze: able to remain liquid enough to deliver oxygen even though most mammalian blood thickens as the temperature drops.

As to the inevitable comparisons to Jurassic Park, Cooper says the technique relies on DNA, which is not preserved in fossils, making it unlikely it can be used on species such as dinosaurs that died out millions of years ago.

(Via ABC News)

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DISCUSSION

Cericneesh
Ceric Neesh

This actually has several potentially useful applications. Mammal blood that can function at even sub-zero temperatures? I expect that it could be used to restore bloodflow to the limbs of frostbite patients, and prevent frostbite before it happens, if nothing else.

(The primary problem with attempting to restore bloodflow to a frostbitten limb currently is that applying pretty much any heat will cause the blood vessels to explode, which could actually further endanger the victim's life. If bloodflow can be restored while staying the same temperature through use of, say, a modified dialysis machine, once blood is flowing it could very gradually be heated to the point where normal bloodflow could safely resume.)