Jurassic Park just might become a reality in Russia if their plans involving cloning a mammoth starts a trend towards the cloning of more prehistoric beasts.
The trick is that their has to be DNA that can be extracted from an animal like a mammoth. Generally, that’s proven to be difficult to do, because not enough viable DNA can be obtained. Time’s passing, the degradation of the DNA, and the fossilization of bones have made obtaining sufficient viable DNA a challenge.
However, with scientists from Russia discovering a perfectly preserved woolly mammoth with liquid blood still in it, a mammoth cloning project might be just around the corner.
On Thursday, according to Russian scientists, the carcass of a perfectly preserved female woolly mammoth, complete with liquid blood, was found on a remote Arctic island. The dream — or nightmare to some — of starting a Jurassic Park has moved one step closer to becoming a reality.
The leader of the the expedition into the Novosibirsk Islands off the Siberian coast, Semyon Grigoryev, who is also the head of the Mammoth Museum, stated:
“The blood is very dark, it was found in ice cavities below the belly and when we broke these cavities with a poll pick, the blood came running out.”
He continued, saying:’We suppose that the mammoth fell into water or got bogged down in a swamp, could not free herself and died.
‘Due to this fact the lower part of the body, including the lower jaw, and tongue tissue, was preserved very well.
‘The upper torso and two legs, which were in the soil, were gnawed by prehistoric and modern predators and almost did not survive.’
Grigoryev’s description of the woolly mammoth is from a statement released by the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk. The university sent the team of scientists to the Lyakhovsky Islands in the hopes of finding a frozen woolly mammoth with enough viable DNA in it that it could be cloned.
It’s been generally excepted in the scientific community that woolly mammoths died out somewhere around ten thousand years ago, though some scientists believe that a small group of them could have survived longer in places that were very cold, like Alaska and Siberia.
Much of the woolly mammoth’s genetic code has already been deciphered by using samples of their hair. Having samples of a woolly mammoth’s blood –some actual living cells of this extinct relative of today’s elephants — makes the goal of cloning one become easier to reach.
Grigoryev said that the liquid blood from the woolly mammoth could provide the necessary material. According to him, the blood of mammoths appeared not to freeze in extreme temperatures. This, along with their woolly hair, likely helped to keep mammoths warm.
At the time of excavation, the temperature was -7 to – 10 degrees Celsius (14 to 19 degrees Fahrenheit).
The extremely frigid temperatures there made the job of collecting the woolly mammoth’s blood more difficult.
Collecting samples of the animal’s blood in tubes with a special preservative agent, the researchers then sent the samples to Yakutsk for bacterial examination in order to spot potentially dangerous infections.
After all, why bother to clone a woolly mammoth that might die soon afterwards, due to a bacterial infection?
The scientists from Russia saw that the woolly mammoth’s muscle tissue was also in perfect condition.
Grigoryev stated that: “The fragments of muscle tissues, which we’ve found out of the body, have a natural red color of fresh meat.”
Woolly mammoths were…well, mammoth, just as their name suggest. These enormous animals were up to 4 meters (13 feet) in height and 10 tons in weight. They made huge areas between Great Britain and North America their homes, and were eventually driven to extinction by humans and the changing climate.
Nothing’s permanent, though — maybe not even extinction of a species like the woolly mammoth.
Could the woolly mammoth cloning plan in Russia be the start of a Soviet Jurassic Park?
Written by: Douglas Cobb