Scientists working in Siberia are hopeful that the samples they discovered of a woolly mammoth contain living cells which could bring them closer to being able to clone the extinct species.
News of the possibility of living woolly mammoth cells came about after an international team of researchers conducted an expedition to the barren lands of Siberia this summer, when the permafrost is easily accessible.
Reports of the discovery came from Russia's North-Eastern Federal University who revealed that the research team had recovered mammoth hair, soft tissues and bone marrow.
They added that the samples were recovered after they excavated a site located more than 100 meters underground during the expedition that took place this past summer in the northeastern province of Yakutia, as reported by the Associated Press.
The expedition leader stated that Korean scientists with the research team had intended to locate a woolly mammoth with the hopes of finding living cells in order to possibly clone the animal.
Scientists have explained that it would take months of research to reveal whether they have found living cells or not.
"Only after thorough laboratory research will it be known whether these are living cells or not," he said, adding that would take until the end of the year at the earliest," Semyon Grigoryev, the expeditions leader, told the online newspaper Vzglyad.
Researchers had previously found samples from woolly mammoths such as frozen hair samples, and have been able to decode the genetic structure of the animal based on those samples.
Some scientists believe that it is possible to clone the animals if they were able to find living cells within the samples.
Wooly mammoths are believed to have gone extinct more than 10,000 years ago, however, some scientists believe that small herds were able to survive much longer in parts of Siberia and present-day Alaska.