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Could Jurassic Park be around the corner?

Although it comes to no surprise, last week, Russia and South Korea have officially signed a deal to team up to recreate  a woolly mammoth (extinct about 11,000 years ago due to the rapidly changing environment and increasing human predation, although some were found to be in Siberia up to 4,500 years ago). They’ll be using stem cells from mammoth remains found in thawed permafrost in Siberia.

By replacing the nuclei of egg cells from an elephant with those taken from the mammoth’s somatic cells, embryos with mammoth DNA could be produced and planted into elephant wombs for delivery, AFP cited him as saying.

Plans of bringing back the mammoth isn’t new. In 2011 a Japanese professor also claimed to be able to bring back a mammoth by 2015. According to this article, he’d attempted in the past but the genetic material had been too damaged.

S. Yashina et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA

Something from the past, however, has been successfully brought back. After 30,000 years of being on ice, scientists have resurrected a wildflower (an ancient form of S. stenophylla) that bloomed during the Ice Age with the mammoths. The plant was grown from a “trove” of fruits and seeds that’d been buried by ground squirrels and preserved in the permafrost. These squirrel burrows were found in the lower Kolyma River in northeastern Siberia, 20-40 metres below the current surface of the tundra and surrounded by the bones of mammoths and other creatures.

Scientists had also tried some of the other seeds found but though the seeds did begin to germinate, they then died. David Gilichinsky of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Physiochemical and Biochemical Problems in Soil Science in Pushchino tried a different approach. He and his colleagues took samples of placental tissue from modern S. stenophylla fruits. This tissue then produced shoots when it was cultivated in vitro, and the scientists used these to propagate more plants. The plants have already blossomed to produce fertile seeds, which then were grown into a second generation of fertile plants.

If you could bring back anything from the past, what would it be?

2 Comments

  • Ria Boulay on Mar 21, 2012 Reply

    I’d bring nothing back. Nature decided what would live, what would die and what would evolve. I’m not arrogant enough to over rule those decisions.
    Besides, who knows what lies dormant in these things, like diseases that today’s plants & animals have no resistance to?
    Isn’t that the plot for some very successful best sellers?

  • carole gill on Mar 20, 2012 Reply

    that is so intersting!
    wow, that’s something I dream of.
    The fact that the flower was done from seeds buried so long ago is mind-blowing.
    Amazing stuff, great post!

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