A bison who lived 9,000 years ago has been found, mummified, in the frigid tundra of Siberia.
The Yukagir tribe in northern Siberia was the first group to report on its discovery of a steppe bison, which they found still buried in the ground.
Steppe bisons, or Bison priscus, were an ancestor of the modern bison still found through some parts of Europe and North America. This species is now extinct.
The remarkably well-preserved animal was carefully transported to the Yakutian Academy of Sciences in Siberia, where an autopsy was performed. Internal organs in the mummified mammal were found to be nearly intact, although little to no fat was found inside the animal. This could suggest the creature died from starvation 90 centuries in the past. Other mummified members of the species have been discovered in previous finds, but none were as intact as this specimen from Siberia.
"The Yukagir bison mummy became the third find out of four now known complete mummies of this species discovered in the world, and one out of two adult specimens that are being kept preserved with internal organs and stored in frozen conditions," Olga Potapova, of the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, South Dakota, said.
Fur and other soft details of the animal are still preserved by the deep-freezing process. The heart, lungs, and digestive system of the mummified creature were found nearly intact. Some organs were smaller than they would have been when the animal was alive, but that is expected, given the age of the age of the specimen.
Around five million people lived around the world at any given time during the seventh millennium before the Common Era. Early Europeans were hunter-gatherers, following prey across the land, 20 centuries after the end of the last major Ice Age. In the Middle East, agriculture was starting to play a central role in society, as the cow was first domesticated. Pottery reached the European continent at this time, and ornaments of gold and silver were crafted for the first time.
Mummified bisons and mammoths found preserved in ice provide paleontologists and biologists a wealth of information on the animals, due to their pristine condition. A horse more than 35,000 years old, a woolly rhinoceros and mammoth have each recently been found near the location where the mummified bison was uncovered.
Some researchers are now looking at the possibility of cloning once-extinct animals, bringing them back to life. Steppe bisons are not likely to be one of the first species targeted for de-extinction, but mummified remains of woolly mammoths may soon allow those animals to once again walk the face of the Earth.