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Histology of a woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) preserved in Permafrost, Yamal Peninsula, Northwest Siberia


Papageorgopoulou, Christina; Link, Karl; Rühli, Frank J (2015). Histology of a woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) preserved in Permafrost, Yamal Peninsula, Northwest Siberia. Anatomical Record, 298(6):1059-1071.

Abstract

In 2007, the baby woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) named Lyuba was found frozen in the Siberian tundra permafrost along the Yuribey River. She was proclaimed the best-preserved mammoth discovery. As part of the endoscopic examination of Lyuba, tissue samples of hair, muscle, and internal organs were taken. The sectioned biopsies were stained using standard and special histological stains. In general, the microscopic preservation of the tissue was good although no clearly identifiable cell nuclei were found by standard staining methods. Only a few cell nuclei could be identified in some samples when fluorescence stained with DAPI. The best-preserved structures were collagen fibers and muscle tissue, which gave some structural resemblance to the organs. In the hairs, evidence of pigmentation, a scaly surface, diagonal intra-hair structures, and a medulla were seen. Fat droplets could be identified with Sudan Red in the subcutaneous fat sample and in several organs. Bacteria were seen on the lumen side of the small intestine and caecum, and in the liver and lung tissue. In addition, fungi and pollen were seen in the lung sample. In the wall of the caecum and small intestine, blood vessels and nerves were visualized. Iron was identified in the vivianite sample. Some biopsies compared well structurally with the African elephant tissue sections. The histological findings support the theory that Lyuba drowned in muddy water. The microscopic tissue preservation and cell nuclei destruction indicate that Lyuba's body underwent at least one freeze-thaw cycle.

In 2007, the baby woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) named Lyuba was found frozen in the Siberian tundra permafrost along the Yuribey River. She was proclaimed the best-preserved mammoth discovery. As part of the endoscopic examination of Lyuba, tissue samples of hair, muscle, and internal organs were taken. The sectioned biopsies were stained using standard and special histological stains. In general, the microscopic preservation of the tissue was good although no clearly identifiable cell nuclei were found by standard staining methods. Only a few cell nuclei could be identified in some samples when fluorescence stained with DAPI. The best-preserved structures were collagen fibers and muscle tissue, which gave some structural resemblance to the organs. In the hairs, evidence of pigmentation, a scaly surface, diagonal intra-hair structures, and a medulla were seen. Fat droplets could be identified with Sudan Red in the subcutaneous fat sample and in several organs. Bacteria were seen on the lumen side of the small intestine and caecum, and in the liver and lung tissue. In addition, fungi and pollen were seen in the lung sample. In the wall of the caecum and small intestine, blood vessels and nerves were visualized. Iron was identified in the vivianite sample. Some biopsies compared well structurally with the African elephant tissue sections. The histological findings support the theory that Lyuba drowned in muddy water. The microscopic tissue preservation and cell nuclei destruction indicate that Lyuba's body underwent at least one freeze-thaw cycle.

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2 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:28 May 2015 07:17
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:15
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1932-8486
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/ar.23148
PubMed ID:25998640

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