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Animals

Could The Wooly Mammoth Roam The Earth Again?

September 6th, 2018

It’s really happening people! Russia is moving forward with plans to unveil the $5.9 million dollar project that will be the first real-life Jurassic Park.

Within a couple of years from now, watching Woolly Mammoths forage the Siberian tundra could be more than just a fantasy.

Although thought to have been extinct for nearly 10,000 years, Russia’s scientists from the Northern-Eastern Federal University (NEFU), located in Yakutsk, plan on bringing them back to the here and now.

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The Siberian Times Source: The Siberian Times

Russia’s unveiling of the costly project is set to happen at the 4th Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok this month between September 11th-13th.

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, will be revealing research facilities that will purportedly include subterranean laboratories beneath the permafrost of Yakutsk, the coldest city in the world. The purpose of which is to restore extinct animals back to life from preserved soft-tissue.

The reasoning behind the location? Sample tissue origination.

Thanks to the often below-freezing climes of Yakutsk, most of the soft tissue samples of ancient, long-gone, species we have in possession today have been preserved there.

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Dailymail Source: Dailymail

In truth, a total of 80% of all Pleistocene and Holocene animals with viable soft tissue have been discovered in Yakutsk alone. The genetic material required in order to make a clone, though, has to be of the highest quality.

Fortunately, the remains of these ancient land animals have been so well-preserved that, according to Dr. Lena Grigorieva in an interview with The Siberian Times, they are so far unmatched in genetic quality.

“There is no such unique material anywhere else in the world.”

Dr. Grigorieva, who spearheads the research for the International Centre for Collective Use ‘Molecular Paleontology’ of the NEFU’s Institute of Applied Ecology of the North, also says that they haven’t been working alone.

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The Siberian Times Source: The Siberian Times

The Russian University has been working closely with the South Korean SOOAM Biotech Research Foundation in the hunt for mammoth genetic material, as well as plans to bring it back from extinction since 2012.

The two powerhouse research institutes came together after SOOAM’s breakthrough in 2011 when the research foundation successfully presented 8 perfect baby coyotes to the world.

The coyotes had been cloned in their facility using a female dog as a surrogate.

SOOAM’s success in the endeavor quickly grabbed Russia’s attention, as both have harbored long-time aspirations of bringing the ancient beast back to life.

So it’s no surprise that the following year, the two joined scientific forces, and South Korean researchers began taking summer excursions into the Yakutsk region, hunting for the perfect piece of Mammoth genetic material.

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Business Insider/Sooam Biotech Source: Business Insider/Sooam Biotech

The mammoth isn’t the only species we may see come back to life within the next couple of decades, either.

The joint research project between Russia’s NEFU and SOOAM seeks to bring back several other species as well, so long as they find viable genetic material coupled with a not-too-distant “cousin” to carry each individual species to term.

In order for a successful clone to take place of an extinct animal, you would have to use inter-species cloning techniques, of which SOOAM is the world leader.

In the instance of a mammoth, the Asian elephant is the best bet for carrying the baby clone to term, as the birthing weight of a calf Asian elephant and a baby mammoth are the same (roughly 200 lbs).

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Wikipedia/Mauricio Antón Source: Wikipedia/Mauricio Antón

Some the other species we can expect to see, possibly before the Woolly Mammoth itself, are the Woolly Rhinoceros, extinct Siberian Cave Lions, and varying breeds of ancient extinct horses.

Just two weeks ago, researchers recovered a 40,000-year-old horse of the extinct Lenskaya breed in the Yakutsk region, and they discovered two perfectly preserved extinct cave lion cubs last year, dating back around 12,000 years. Both discoveries yielded enough genetic material for cloning.

While whether or not scientists should actually be practicing raising the dead in terms of the extinct, is a highly controversial question of ethics. Though as long as there is funding for the research, scientists plan to carry on in their experiments.

As far as the consequences for creating a living Jurassic Park goes… well, only time will tell.

H/T: IFLScience