Frozen woolly mammoth fragments in Siberia have been discovered. The fragments contain living cells that could make cloning prehistoric animals a possibility.
An international team of researchers discovered mammoth hair, bone marrow and soft tissue, 328 feet underground in Yakutia, which is located in the northeastern province.
The team which is Russian led also includes members of Great Britain, South Korea, Canada, the United States and Sweden.
Semyon Grigoryev the expedition chief said that the team had goals of finding living cells in the hopes of cloning a mammoth in the future. Scientists have found bones and fragments in the past, but no living cells.
Grigoryev said to Reuters, "All we need for cloning is one living cell, which means it can reproduce autonomously. Then it will be no problem for us to multiply them to tens of thousands cells."
He also said that it will take months to find out whether or not they had found the actual living cells. He said to the website Vzglyad, "Only after thorough laboratory research will it be known whether these are living cells or not."
Though it is unlikely that the cells remain alive because they need to be at temperatures between 4 and -20 Celsius for them to remain alive. "We are counting on our region's permafrost to have kept some cells alive. But it is unlikely," said Grigoryev.
Woolly mammoths are believed to have died off over 10,000 years ago but some scientists believe that some lived for longer on Russia's Wrangel Island off the Siberian coast and in Alaska.