Woolly Mammoth: Watch ‘Yuka’ Get Displayed In Japan After 39,000 Years Trapped In Ice [VIDEO]

on July 10, 2013 5:57 PM EDT

woolly mammoth
Woolly mammoths faced a slow decline, due in part to humans and in part to climate change (Photo: Library of Science)

The woolly mammoth is one of the most iconic animals of Earth's last Ice Age, and was often a source of food for early humans. And a woolly mammoth going on display in Japan has not only confirmed that humans preyed upon the massive beasts, but the remains of the woolly mammoth were so well-preserved in ice that much of its hair and even the hooves are still intact. The woolly mammoth, named Yuka (which means beautiful in Japanese), is now on display in Yokohama until Sept. 16. Here's a video of Yuka the woolly mammoth being unboxed and set-up for display at the exhibition:

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Woolly Mammoth Gets Unboxed In Japan

Yuka the woolly mammoth was found in May on the New Siberian Islands, or Novosibirsk Islands. The woolly mammoth was so well preserved that she had still had liquid blood inside her, a discovery that led expedition leader Semyon Griogoryev to speculate it may be possible to clone the woolly mammoth in the near future.

"When we broke the ice beneath her stomach, the blood flowed out from there. It was very dark," Grigoryev said. "This find gives us a really good chance of finding living cells, which can help us implement this project to clone a mammoth."

Hendrik Poinar, a geneticist and biological anthropologists whose focus is on extracting ancient DNA, said bringing the woolly mammoth back from the grave is unequivocally possible.

In March, Poinar spoke at a TED Talk conference in Washington, DC, about the prospect of woolly mammoth cloning. He said during the segment that with advances with DNA sequencing, scientists can take the DNA from the mammoth carcass and put it into the chromosomes of an Asian or African elephant, which shared ancestors with the mammoth millions of years ago.

"If you had asked me ten years ago whether or not we'd ever be able to actually sequence the genome of extinct animals, I would have told you, 'Eh, it's unlikely,'" he said. "But I'm actually standing here today to tell you that ... the revival of an extinct species is within reach."

Researchers from around the world have marveled at the condition of Yuka the woolly mammoth. She is already being described as "the best preserved woolly mammoth in history" by the Daily Mail.

"It's exceptionally rare to find intact mammoths," Kevin Campbell, an associate professor of environmental and evolutionary physiology at the University of Manitoba, told the Christian Science Monitor. "And to find a mammoth that has been conclusively found to have been butchered by humans makes this find exceedingly unusual."

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