A real-world Jurassic Park is never going to happen, but shooting for a more recent prehistoric era might be more achievable. The Pleistocene Park project is aiming to rebuild a lost Ice Age ecosystem in Siberia, and its directors, the father-and-son team of Sergey and Nikita Zimov, say it could help slow the effects of climate change. Now, the initiative is running a crowdfunding campaign to help transport a new herd of animals to the park.
A female woolly mammoth, which was found frozen in Russia in May, has gone on display in an exhibition hall in Tokyo.
The 39,000-year-old mammoth will be on display at the hall in Yokohama in the south of the Japanese city from 13 July until September 16.
Visitors and tourists will be able to come and view the extinct creature that was discovered in an ice tomb in the New Siberian Islands, or Novosibirsk Islands, earlier this year.
REAL LIFE JURASSIC PARK ‘NOT AN OPTION’, SCIENTISTS SAY
Last year a controversial Australian billionaire was believed to be drawing up secret plans for a real-life Jurassic Park.
Mining magnate Clive Palmer, who has already embarked on a project to rebuild the Titanic, was rumoured to be working with the team who created Dolly the sheep.
But the research has shown the dinosaurs may have to stay on the big screen – as their DNA is just too old to be able to use for de-extinction.
However, Korean scientists are hoping that the samples found on the Siberian woolly mammoth aren’t too old.
They plan to take the DNA samples and reassemble them into a full genome.
This could then be injected into embryonic cells which have had their own DNA taken out, and a suitable living surrogate would be found.
Parts of the carcass are especially well preserved because they remained entirely frozen for thousands of years.
This means that the shape of the mammoth is intact, including its hair – which gave the mammoth its woolly name.
However, the upper torso and two legs, which were found in the soil rather than the ice, were gnawed by prehistoric and modern predators and almost did not survive.
Visitors to the hall will also be able to clearly see the mammoth’s snout, legs and torso.
The scientists who found the mammoth in May were also able to extract a blood sample from the beast.
It was the first ever well-preserved sample of blood from a woolly mammoth and could be used to recreate the extinct species.
The blood was sealed inside ice beneath the carcass of a female mammoth.
Preserved muscle tissue was also found from the creature, aged between 50 and 60 when she died, according to the Russian team who made the discovery on islands off the northern coast of Siberia.
‘It is the first time we managed to obtain mammoth blood. No-one has ever seen before how the mammoth’s blood flows.’
Dr Grigoriev put the approximate age of the animal at around 10,000 years old but more recent dating tests suggest the creature is much older – daring back around 39,000 years.
‘It has been preserved thanks to the special conditions, due to the fact that it did not defrost and then freeze again.
‘We suppose that the mammoth fell into water or got bogged down in a swamp, could not free herself and died.
‘For now our suspicion is that mammoth blood contains a kind of natural anti-freeze.’
Samples taken from the mammoth include ‘blood, blood vessels, glands, soft tissue, in a word – everything that we could.
‘Luckily we had taken with us on our expedition a special preservative agent for blood.’
The samples were taken for study to Yakutsk, capital of the Republic of Sakha, also known as Yakutia, the largest region in the Russian Federation.
The carcass weighing around one tonne was then moved to the Siberian mainland and was kept in ice storage before being taken to Tokyo.
The blood and other samples were made available to South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk’s private bioengineering laboratory, which has confirmed it is working with other mammoth DNA samples in a bid to return the extinct Siberian mammoth to the planet.
The eventual plan is to plant an implanted egg into a live elephant for a 22-month pregnancy.
Earlier this year a group of scientists from around the world met for TEDx conference in Washington, sponsored by National Geographic.
The group were discussing the possibility of bringing 24 animals back from extinction, also known as ‘de-extinction’.
The animals included the dodo bird, the Carolina Parakeet, last seen in 1904 in Florida, and the Quagga, a plains zebra which once lived in South Africa but died out in 1883.
However, a real life Jurassic Park is not an option, it is said, because dinosaur DNA is just too old.
In May, scientists from University of Cincinnati claimed that a giant meteor was probably responsible for wiping out the woolly mammoth, and not hunting, which researchers previously thought was the reason.
They believe a huge meteor smashing through the Earth’s atmosphere broke up into ten million tonnes of fiery fragments, scattering over four continents.
These fragments are thought to have released toxic gas which poisoned the air and blacked out the sun, causing temperatures to plummet, plants to die and landscapes to alter forever.
Attribution: Mail Online
Altai in southern Siberia sits right at the centre of Russia. But the tiny, mountainous republic has a claim to fame unknown until now – Native Americans can trace their origins to the remote region.
DNA research revealed that genetic markers linking people living in the Russian republic of Altai, southern Siberia, with indigenous populations in North America.
A study of the mutations indicated a lineage shift between 13,000 and 14,000 years ago – when people are thought to have walked across the ice from Russia to America
This roughly coincides with the period when humans from Siberia are thought to have crossed what is now the Bering strait and entered America.
“Altai is a key area because it’s a place where people have been coming and going for thousands and thousands of years”, said Dr Theodore Schurr, from the University of Pennsylvania.
Among the people who may have emerged from the Altai region are the predecessors of the first Native Americans.
Roughly 20-25,000 years ago, these prehistoric humans carried their Asian genetic lineages up into the far reaches of Siberia and eventually across the then-exposed Bering land mass into the Americas.
“Our goal in working in this area was to better define what those founding lineages or sister lineages are to Native American populations,” Schurr said.
The region lies at the intersection of what is now Russia, Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan.
Dr Schurr’s team checked Altai DNA samples for markers in mitochondrial DNA which is always passed on by mothers, and Y chromosome DNA which sons inherit from their fathers.
“At this level of resolution we can see the connections more clearly,” Schurr said.
Looking at the Y chromosome DNA, the researchers found a unique mutation shared by Native Americans and southern Altaians in the lineage known as Q.
Mitochondrial DNA is found in tiny rod-like ‘powerplants’ in cells that generate energy. Both kinds of DNA showed links between Altaians and Native Americans.
In the Y chromosome DNA, the researchers found a unique mutation shared by Native Americans and people from southern Altai.
The findings are published today in the American Journal of Human Genetics.
Calculating how long the mutations they noted took to arise, Schurr’s team estimated that the southern Altaian lineage diverged genetically from the Native American lineage 13,000 to 14,000 years ago, a timing scenario that aligns with the idea of people moving into the Americas from Siberia between 15,000 and 20,000 years ago.
Though it’s possible, even likely, that more than one wave of people
crossed the land bridge, Schurr said that other researchers have not yet been able to identify another similar geographic focal point from which Native Americans can trace their heritage.
“It may change with more data from other groups, but, so far, even with intensive work in Mongolia, they’re not seeing the same things that we are”, he said.
In addition to elucidating the Asia-America connection, the study confirms that the modern cultural divide between southern and northern Altaians has ancient genetic roots
Attribution: Daily Mail