40 tons of Russian mammoth ivory exported last year

Wooly mammoth tusks
Wooly mammoth tusksCourtesy Hyperbolation
Wooly mammoth tusks are thawing out of the permafrost in Russia. Reindeer herders, oil and gas workers and professional ivory hunters are gathering up nearly pristine ivory as it emerges from the thawing permafrost. The tusks emerge with the spring thaw or after heavy rains, or along the eroding banks of rivers.

“They gather tusks like mushrooms after the rain, literally,” said Aleksei Tikhonov, the director of the Zoological Museum in St. Petersburg and an expert on mammoths.

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About 90 percent of the Siberian ivory that is recovered is exported to Asia, where it is principally used in the manufacture of personal seals that in Japan, China and South Korea are used in place of signatures for business transactions.

150,000,000 mammoths still buried

The Siberian permafrost blankets millions of square miles. Hidden in one of the upper layers of this mass, corresponding to the Pleistocene Epoch, are the remains of an estimated 150 million mammoths. If left outside and exposed to the elements, this ivory will disintegrate within three years into worthless splinters. While prices vary, leading dealers in Moscow usually ask $150 to $200 a pound for average-grade ivory.

Source: New York Times

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

BridgetBoils's picture
BridgetBoils says:

Experts have been discussing how to clone a wooly mammoth for many years. With nuclear DNA having been found in Siberia, this theory is now a real possibility. Experts in Japan and Russia have agreed to work together to try and clone a living, breathing mammoth. This will be a massive achievement in the world of science.

posted on Wed, 12/07/2011 - 11:12pm

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