News of the WeekPaleontology

Siberian Mammoth Find Raises Hopes, Questions

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Science  29 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5441, pp. 876-877
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5441.876

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A team working in Siberia has excavated a huge chunk of permanently frozen sediment containing what it hopes are the remains of a woolly mammoth that died 20,000 years ago. On 17 October the crew airlifted the 22-ton block of tundra to a cavern hewed from the ice on Russia's Taimyr Peninsula, where scientists plan to thaw the block next spring to study what's left of the extinct beast inside--and perhaps even mount an effort to clone it. Expectations are high, but one Russian expert involved in the expedition is pessimistic: He contends that the find's significance has been exaggerated, and the team may end up with little more than 22 tons of dirt and meltwater.