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Scientists attempt to clone extinct horse from Siberian foal mummy

Scientists attempt to clone extinct horse from Siberian foal mummy

Russia is now planning a “Paleo Park”

When I read Michael Crichton’s famous Jurassic Park in the 1990’s, I knew enough about the approach to sense that cloning could be used to bring back extinct animals.

It appears that Crichton’s novel was indeed prophetic, as scientists are attempting to extract cells from the mummy of a 40,000-year-old foal from Siberia in an attempt to use the sample to clone the extinct species back into existence.

The male baby horse was discovered last month, according to The Siberian Times, in permafrost in Batagaika crater, which residents superstitiously call the “gateway to the underworld.” Nearby Yakutsk, a remote city in eastern Siberia, is often cited as being the coldest city in the world.

A team of scientists from South Korea and Russia estimates the foal, called the Lenskaya or Lena horse, was about 20 days old when it died. The species of horse, now extinct, is between 30,000 and 40,000 years old. Thanks to the extremely cold temperatures, the animal’s tissue was preserved enough for the scientists to obtain samples.

Semyon Grigoriev, head of the laboratory at the Mammoth Museum, told the Times that the horse was “well-preserved” and a “unique find.” There is no damage to the horse’s carcass and even its hair is intact – which Grigoriev said is “incredibly rare for such ancient finds.”

Interestingly, Russia is planning a major new £4.5 million cloning facility, a “Paleo Park,” that aims to bring back to life the extinct woolly mammoth and rhinoceros as well as other long-gone species.

The cloning laboratories – some sunk deep in the permafrost soil – aim to extend research by Russian scientists who are already working closely with South Korean specialists hoping to restore extinct species.

Yakutsk is capital of diamond-rich Sakha Republic, also known as Yakutia, where 80 percent of finds of samples of Pleistocene and Holocene animals with preserved soft tissues have been made.

The scheme of the new centre will be unveiled at the 4th Eastern Economic Forum hosted by President Putin opening on September 11 in Vladivostok.

It will “aim to study extinct animals from living cells – and to restore such creatures as the woolly mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, cave lion and breeds of long-gone horses”, reported The Siberian Times.

Others are directing their research interests to the most famous predator of the Paleolithic era: the sabre tooth tiger. The scientists are taking the same research approach as used in Crichton’s best-seller, as they plan to use the genetic code of a living species to bring back its extinct kin.

San Francisco interior designer Ken Fulk, known for his eclectic style, lavish parties, tech/ social media clients including Sean Parker, and writeups about his work in Vanity Fair, issued a news release today stating that his love of taxidermy has led him to donate a rare saber-tooth tiger from his collection to Stewart Brand’s Revive & Restore Foundation, for the purpose of using cells to clone a cat with the help of UC-Santa Cruz’s paleogenomics lab.

“Fulk’s 10,000-year-old specimen, which was gifted to him during his annual vacation to the Alaskan fishing village of Noatak, was discovered frozen in a glacier cave near Eschscholtz Bay,” stated the news release, accompanied by the photo shown above. “By extracting DNA from the fur and claws of this incredibly preserved saber-toothed tiger, the geneticists at University of California-Santa Cruz paleogenomics lab may be able to bring the prehistoric large cat back from extinction. Using the genome of an Asiatic lion as a model, the scientists will attempt to recode Smilodon’s genome to create a living cell that would then be used with existing cloning technology.

These developments do have some significant ethical considerations and safety concerns, as these animals’ niches no longer exist and living animals may not be immune to the pathogens they may have.


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living animals may not be immune to the pathogens they may have.

Even if somebody screws up and extracts some random pathogen’s genetic material, the host cell they’re trying to modify won’t be a very good match.

In any case, don’t expect much. They’ve been tossing this around for forty years that I know of, and nothing’s happened yet. Most talk so far has involved elephants.

The Museum in Yakutsk has loads of spare parts. I bought a few Mammuthus primigenius teeth from them in the early Internet days. Pretty cool, but very dead.

Bring it. I want a 9″ T-Rex I can keep in an aquarium. Oh yeah. And it should breath fire.

didn’t jeff goldblum screaming about chaos theory teach them anything?

JusticeDelivered | September 8, 2018 at 4:53 pm

I have far ranging scientific interests. I doubt that we will see new pathogens from cloned prehistoric animals. The clone will never be exposed to pathogens of its time.

We may discover new/old medically useful genes. All discoveries come with risks and benefits. There is no reason that we cannot create these things with a kill switch, maybe with a second backup kill switch.

Besides, think about the possibility of Sabertooth Tigers modified with remote control capabilities.

Testing of such could be in Iran, or the Middle East.

Israel is most certainly capable of this kind of work, think about Sabertooth Soldiers keeping the peace in palestine, fueled by martyrs.

PETA would no doubt feel outrage, and then we could introduce PETA to the critters, footage of that introduction could become the basis for a new very profitable movie.

The Russian paleo park has been around for a long time. Importing horse breeds and creating viable breeding stocks. They think there’s a gene responsible for mammalian blood being resistant to freezing. Lots of stuff like that.

They’ve done some interesting experiments on how huge herds of grazing animals impacted taiga permafrost and the release of methane gas. Replicating some of that impact using tracked vehicles.

Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History’s Most Iconic Extinct Creatures

It’s not nice to monkey around with Mother Nature because that’s racist, or something. However, if the scientists are hawt like Laura Dern, I could be persuaded.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to locomotivebreath1901. | September 8, 2018 at 11:40 pm

    This kind of research might help bring those people who were left behind by evolution catch up with those who are improved versions. I am thinking of all the groups of people whose average IQs are far below normal, including those where inbreeding has greatly lowered their IQs and made them so mentally unstable that they can no longer get along with others. They know who they are, and I am baiting them for grins.

Oh boy! Another food choice for my Paleo diet.

So they want to bring back an animal that will be one of a kind and live in a zoo.


    JusticeDelivered in reply to Sanddog. | September 9, 2018 at 9:25 am

    What makes you think there will only be one? Even if it was, it can be studied, and we learn more about its capabilities.

Wow. The concerns about immunities and pathogens are 100% wrong. The clones will be born from modern animals — so will be exposed to modern genes and antibodies in the womb. Their immune systems may not be as sophisticated as modern animals — though, honestly, 40,000 years is an instant — or they MAY be endangered by something modern species evolved an immunity to.

Yes, the animals will largely be curiosity pieces. But so are ligers and chihuahuas. They might show some behavior we don’t expect, but mostly will act like the animals they’re raised with. The interesting thing is how domesticated they’ll be.

    I disagree. Viruses can lay dormant, only to come back again once the original system for which they were designed comes around.

    We just don’t know. Sorry to be the Jeff Goldblum here.

      JusticeDelivered in reply to Leslie Eastman. | September 8, 2018 at 11:47 pm

      Is there any evidence of viruses that old still existing? In any event, resurrected life forms would likely be treated as a potential hazard until we learn enough about them to think they are safe.

      JusticeDelivered in reply to Leslie Eastman. | September 8, 2018 at 11:51 pm

      Turns out that there was a 30,000 year old virus discovered which is still infectus.

our “junk” dna may also get triggered by extinct species being brought back. just so much we don’t know about our unused dna strands.
here is article about the 30k yr old virus mentioned above
permafrost hides a lot of stuff.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to dmacleo. | September 9, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    In other words, melting glaciers and permafrost may well reintroduce old pathogens. That is a very good reason to be studying and experimenting with extinct life forms. Sticking our heads in the sand and hoping nothing bad happens is not a good idea.

We have enough problems keeping existing species from going extinct and now they want to bring back prehistoric ones that have had their time and place? Scientists with too much time on their hands, looking for something “cool” to do and money to do it.

JusticeDelivered | September 9, 2018 at 8:04 pm

Genetic engineering is here to stay. What if we could repair damaged middle eastern DNA, roll back the clock on damage caused by worshiping an ancient brute? How many billions of people could become much more productive, be smarter, healthier, mentally stable and live happier lives?

PersonofInterests | September 10, 2018 at 1:52 pm

So long as they don’t attempt to clone T. Rex or Mosasaurus or Megalodon: Some things should stay extinct.