Although modern bison can still be found in areas of Europe and North America, the steppe bison, or Bison priscus, is now extinct. After being discovered, the incredibly well-preserved bison was taken to the Yakutian Academy of Sciences in Siberia, where scientists performed an autopsy.
Its internal organs were found to be largely intact, but minimal amounts of fat were present. According to scientists this could mean that the bison starved to death some 9,000 years ago. Other mummified bison have been uncovered in the past, but this latest discovery is the best preserved of the lot.
Yukagir bison mummy: Latest Siberian discovery
“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, stated.
Siberian weather conditions are perfect for preserving and mummifying remains. The fur is preserved through the process of deep-freezing, as are the internal organs, although they do start to shrink with the passage of time.
If the bison were alive 9,000 years ago, it would have shared the planet with around 5 million humans. At the time, Europeans were hunter-gatherers and agriculture was booming in the Middle East following the domestication of the cow.
Bringing them back to life
The discovery of well-preserved, mummified bison and mammoths in the Siberian tundra have given paleontologists and biologists a window into the past. Researchers in Siberia have discovered a rich seam of remains recently, with a 35,000-year-old horse, a woolly rhinoceros and a mammoth all being uncovered near to the final resting place of the bison.
In a development that wouldn’t be out of place in a science fiction novel, researchers are now investigating the viability of cloning once-extinct animals, in order to bring them back to life. The thought of a cloned woolly mammoth roaming the plains of Siberia is both awe-inspiring and terrifying at once.