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The mummified brain of a well-preserved woolly mammoth found in the Siberian permafrost is the only mostly intact mammoth brain known to science, which has been described in a new study.
The carcass of the 39,000-year-old woolly mammoth, which included the brain with folds and blood vessels visible, was found in August 2010. The mammoth, named Yuka, was 6 to 9 years old when it died, the researchers found.
In the new study, researchers examined the animal's brain using computed tomography and MRI scans. Thanks to the scanning technology, the investigators were able to study the well-preserved cerebellum, located at the back of the brain, and even see the white and gray matter of the cerebrum. Moreover, the investigators even found traces of nervous tissue while examining the brain. They found that the brain's structure was similar to that in modern-day elephants.
"Until now, there was no opportunity to examine the whole brain of a woolly mammoth, which might have had complicated behavior, similar to modern elephants," said Anastasia Kharlamova, of the Russian Academy of the Medical Sciences, in an email to LiveScience.