Scientists probe preserved mammoth's brain

Feb. 28, 2013 at 3:47 PM

YAKUTSK, Russia, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Russian scientists said they've begun to study a well-preserved mammoth brain to see if it will yield clues to the extinct animal's behavior.

"This discovery holds great scientific significance," Albert Protopopov from the Academy of Sciences in Yakutia in remote Siberia told RIA Novosti. "This is the first time scientists have gotten their hands on the brain of an animal that lived tens of thousands of years ago, and one that's in such good condition."

The baby mammoth nicknamed Yuka, found in 2010 in Yakutia, is believed to have lived around 39,000 years ago and is thought to have been around 10 or 11 years old at the time of death.

The brain is in excellent condition, scientists said.

"This allows us to study not only the morphological features of the mammoth brain, but also, most importantly, to understand particular aspects of their behavior, something that has not been possible to date," Protopopov said.

While the carcass "is exceptionally well preserved," he said, "the skin shows marks made by claws and teeth of cave lions, and tear marks from stone tools used by early humans."

The research work on the mammoth brain is being carried out in Moscow, he said.

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