Attention Deficit Disorder Prosthetic Memory Program

The Jarkov Mammoth

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The Jarkov Mammoth - © Attention Deficit Disorder Prosthetic Memory Program

The Jarkov Mammoth (named for the family who discovered it) is a woolly mammoth specimen discovered on the Taymyr Peninsula of Siberia by a nine-year-old boy in 1997. This particular mammoth is estimated to have lived about 20,000 years ago. It is likely to be male and probably died at age 47.

Simion Jarkov was a young Dolgan living in the village of Khatanga, 500 miles (800 km) north of the Arctic Circle. Jarkov was visiting his family approximately 150 miles (240 km) further north in Novorybnoye. While hunting near 73°32’N, 105°49’E, he discovered the curved, 30-centimetre (12 in) tips of the tusks, which his brother reported to the Taymyr Nature Reserve. An attempt was initially made to move the tusks.

The Nature Reserve did not initially investigate the find, so the Jarkovs contacted a Siberia specialist who would become a well-known mammoth-hunter Bernard Buigues. On 18 October 1999, the 23 tonne block of mud and ice was lifted via helicopter to the ice cave in Khatanga.

It currently resides in an ice cave where over 36 scientists from around the world, including Russian mammoth expert Alexei Tikhonov, study the find. Bone marrow and Pleistocene plant samples have been removed and sent to various laboratories for analysis as the mammoth thaws. As of 2001, the intactness of the mammoth is unknown. Over 50 samples from the Jarkov Mammoth have been carbon-14 dated. Indications are that mammoths roamed the Taimyr region for tens of thousands of years.

Some scientists have expressed hopes that mammoth DNA may be extracted and cloned to bring the species back from extinction. However, other scientists, such as Alexei Tikhonov, have expressed concerns of the viability of any genetic material extracted. According to Tikhonov:

You have to have a living cell for cloning, and not a single cell can survive in the permafrost.

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