Friday, April 18, 2008

Baby Mammoth's Innards Scanned

Baby Mammoth 27 Innards Scanned

April 11, 2008—A Tokyo medical team prepares to CT-scan the world's best preserved mammoth—missing only her tail and shaggy coat.

Completed by February, the resulting 3-D images (not yet released to the public) provide the first detailed look at a prehistoric animal's insides, Russian scientists announced this week.

A hunter found 37,000-year-old "Lyuba" in Arctic Russia in May 2007 . She was later shipped to Tokyo's Jikei University School of Medicine and is now back in Russia for biopsies and detailed genetic analysis.

Researchers hope to sequence the entire mammoth genome from Lyuba and uncover ancient viruses in her tissues.

Baby Mammoth 27 Innards Scanned 03
A CT scan of the baby mammoth Lyuba lights up a monitor at a Tokyo medical school. A Japanese team captured 3-D images by February 2008 of individual body parts, such as her liver and heart, though they have not yet been released to the public.

Russian biologist Alexei Tikhonov said, “Now we can see all the internal organs in their natural positions inside the body."

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Yes, this is amazing. We see mommoths all the time in animation and on movies like 10,000 BC -- always feeling like just storybook characters no more real than fairies and ogres and unicorns. But this gave me the feeling like I am actually sharing space with them, just that they are no longer here.  

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