The Jurassic Park dream of cloning long-dead animals from their genetic remains may have taken a step closer to reality, as scientists claim to have found mammoth blood.
The purported discovery came inside the carcass of a female mammoth, which died 10,000 to 15,000 years ago.
Semyon Grigoryev, the head of the expedition, told The Siberian Times the discovery of blood and muscle tissue was "the most astonishing case in my entire life," and could be a boost to researchers who dream of cloning the animal.
He said: "When we broke the ice beneath her stomach, the blood flowed out from there, it was very dark.
"This is the most astonishing case in my entire life. How was it possible for it to remain in liquid form? And the muscle tissue is also red, the colour of fresh meat."
Mr Grigoryev, who is a scientist at the North-Eastern Federal University, in Yakutsk, Siberia, said the bottom of the carcass was so well preserved because it ended up in a frozen pool. The upper part of the body is thought to have been eaten by predators.
The discovery, made in an ice tomb in the New Siberian Islands, or Novosibirsk Islands, gives new hope to researchers in their quest to bring the woolly mammoth back to life, according to Mr Grigoryev.
"This find gives us a really good chance of finding live cells which can help us implement this project to clone a mammoth," he said.
"Previous mammoths have not had such well-preserved tissue."
Last year, Mr Grigoryev's Northeastern Federal University signed a deal with cloning pioneer Hwang Woo-Suk of South Korea's Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, who in 2005 cloned a dog for the first time.
Mammoth specialists from South Korea, Russia and the United States will now study what remains of the carcass, which is being kept at an undisclosed location.