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DNA scholars hope to stock Siberia 'park' with mammoths
Japan Times ^ | August 20, 2002 | JULIAN RYALL

Posted on 08/22/2002 9:12:32 AM PDT by Korth

"Jurassic Park" was a work of fiction. Pleistocene Park is in the process of becoming fact.

A joint team of Japanese and Russian scientists arrived in the Siberian province of Yakutsk late last month to excavate a number of creatures that have been extinct for millennia -- including mammoths and woolly rhinoceroses.

They plan to extract DNA from the frozen remains, cross-breed the retrieved nuclei with the creatures' modern-day counterparts and return the resurrected dinosaurs to a vast "safari park" in northern Siberia.

"It probably sounds a little far-fetched, but it's absolutely possible to do this," said professor Akira Iritani, who is coordinating the project from Osaka's Kinki University.

"It would be no problem having people visit the park, although infrastructure would need to be built, such as accommodations for the tourists, because Siberian winters are extremely severe," he said.

And the 72-year-old Iritani knows what he is talking about. In January, he announced that the university's School of Biology-Oriented Science and Technology, of which he is the dean, had transplanted a spinach gene into a pig to change the animal's fat into less fatty linoleic acid. The result is healthier pork products.

Iritani and the Mammoth Creation Society, based in Miyazaki Prefecture, first hit the headlines in the mid-1990s when they announced plans to resurrect ancient animals, as he terms them, that roamed the Earth 20,000 years ago.

The group has organized several expeditions in recent years in search of remains to retrieve usable DNA. Ideally, they want to regenerate a mammoth.

"The best way to clone one of these animals is to find frozen sperm, but that is very difficult," Iritani said. "Alternatively, a portion of muscle, skin or any piece of tissue can be a good source of viable DNA.

"The most important thing is to find a good carcass. We need to find specimens that were frozen immediately after death and have remained at a temperature of between minus 25 and minus 30 ever since," he said.

And that is what his team is searching the Siberian tundra for. The 10-member group has traveled to the town of Chokurdakh, close to the East Siberian Sea and more than 500 km north of the Arctic Circle, to a site identified last year by local people as having numerous remains buried in the permafrost.

The search area was narrowed to several hundred square meters of tundra and the aim was to recover samples bearing viable DNA from the Siberian tiger, steppe lions, giant deer, ancient foxes and the ancestors of the Siberian horse, as well as mammoths and woolly rhinos, before returning to Japan.

The team's return was delayed to mid-August by its discovery of what are believed to be the right foreleg and left hind leg of a woolly mammoth.

Iritani said a lot of work remains before the two samples can be positively identified, and it may take up to two months for Moscow authorities to grant permission for their transport to Japan.

Iritani has been working in collaboration with a university in Bangkok and as soon as usable mammoth DNA has been identified, an elephant will be artificially inseminated with the nucleus. Each generation of cross-bred mammoths will more closely resemble the genetic inheritance of its forefathers as females are impregnated with more DNA from the male mammoth.

The same process will be used with the other beasts, and in as little as 20 years, Iritani said, these long-extinct creatures will once again be roaming the steppe.

"It all depends on getting good-quality tissue, of course, but we will eventually be able to produce many, many animals," he said. "At present, the success rate for cloned animals is not so high, but in a few years we will have the technology to repair recovered DNA that has been slightly damaged. We'll store any damaged DNA that we find. We're not going to give up this project."

The ultimate aim is the Siberian sanctuary.

"The last time I was over there, the Russians showed us the place they will provide to build Pleistocene Park," Iritani said. "We flew over it in a helicopter and the quality of the grass there seems to be perfect for the animals we're working on."

The park will cover an area about twice the size of Japan, he said, and at present the area has no human inhabitants.

As well as facilities for paying tourists, the reserve will need to provide shelter for the animals that are returned there, Iritani said, as he believes Siberia's elements were far less severe 20,000 years ago than they are now.

Iritani's search for a frozen mammoth began in 1996 and he is now a leading member of the Mammoth Creation Society, which in summer 1999 recovered a section of skin from what they believed at the time was a mammoth.

Their hopes were dashed 12 months later when it was determined that 90 percent of the skin's DNA sequence matched that of the Indian rhinoceros, although Kazufumi Goto, a professor of reproductive physiology at Kagoshima University and a member of the group, said the discovery was still valuable.

Iritani said one of the goals of his quest is to draw attention to the fact that the permafrost is melting -- uncovering these creatures in the process -- as a result of global warming.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Japan; News/Current Events; Russia
KEYWORDS: archaeology; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; helixmakemineadouble; history; iceage; japan; jurassicpark; mammoth; mammoths; mammothtoldme; paleontology; pleistocene; pleistocenepark; russia; siberia; siberiantiger; steppelions; woollyrhinoceroses

1 posted on 08/22/2002 9:12:33 AM PDT by Korth
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To: Korth
And, what of Godzilla, sleeping peacefully all these years a few miles outside Tokyo Bay ?
2 posted on 08/22/2002 9:19:05 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: Korth
Osaka's Kinki University LIVING UP TO THEIR NAME
 
1-   Transplanted a spinach gene into a pig to change the animal's fat into less fatty linoleic acid. The result is healthier pork products.
 
2-    Uncovering these creatures in the process -- as a result of global warming.
 
3-    DNA from the Siberian tiger, steppe lions, giant deer, ancient foxes and the ancestors of the Siberian horse, as well as mammoths and woolly rhinos.
 

 
Actually, I think this is pretty cool. I would love to see Wooly Mammoths live instead of just the pictures.


3 posted on 08/22/2002 9:27:13 AM PDT by Lokibob
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To: Korth
"Iritani said one of the goals of his quest is to draw attention to the fact that the permafrost is melting -- uncovering these creatures in the process -- as a result of global warming."

Which is a common natural phenomenon in the cycle of life occuring on planets. Something my SUV doesnt have any impact on.
4 posted on 08/22/2002 9:30:26 AM PDT by smith288
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To: smith288
Folks who adopt the "global warming" story are called "Liberals." They believe there is a group of very intellegent people put on the Earth to write rules for the rest of us and (they hope) take care of our needs.
Mind if I sit this one out ?
5 posted on 08/22/2002 9:33:45 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: Korth
(Jurassic Park)

6 posted on 08/22/2002 9:48:25 AM PDT by Consort
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To: Korth
There's lots of other interesting animals (and some plants) which could be reconstituted. Sabertooth tigers, moas, marsupial wolves, ginkgo relatives come to mind.
7 posted on 08/22/2002 10:03:23 AM PDT by Post Toasties
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To: Post Toasties
marsupial wolves

The Tasmanian Tiger? They're working on this right now. There is a pup in Australia that has been perfectly preserved in alcohol -- great source for the DNA. The surrogate mother is to be a bandicoot.

I'm suprised no ones tried for a dodo yet...

8 posted on 08/22/2002 10:12:03 AM PDT by jae471
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To: Korth
I'm just waiting 'till I can get one of those big mammoth ribs that knock over F. Flintstone's car!
9 posted on 08/22/2002 10:13:32 AM PDT by WindMinstrel
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To: jae471
That's it.
10 posted on 08/22/2002 10:13:33 AM PDT by Post Toasties
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
Obviously, there was some massive, extremely quick, global cooling if all these creatures were frozen in such a well-preserved state. My hunch is, the Siberian climate was a lot warmer than even our current "global warming" has managed to acheive. If successful, this park will have a park-full of dead animals after the first winter. The idea of wolly mammoths roaming around in Arctic cold is probably just fiction.
11 posted on 08/22/2002 10:25:51 AM PDT by ghost of nixon
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To: Korth
The whole article is suspect because the refer to the animals as "Dinosaurs" These animals are mammals not dinosaurs. Could be a translation error, could be poor research.
12 posted on 08/22/2002 10:37:22 AM PDT by Conan the Librarian
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To: Jimer
Could you please tell me how you managed to post Cyrillic letters? Is there some special software you used or what?
13 posted on 08/22/2002 12:32:36 PM PDT by Korth
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To: Korth
Could you please tell me how you managed to post Cyrillic letters? Is there some special software you used or what?

It can be done with character maps or a Cyrillic font or with special software, etc.

In this case, I went to an on-line Russian Translator and entered "Jurassic Park" (without the quotes) and got the translation. Then I pressed the SHIFT and PRINT SCREEN buttons at the same time to get a COPY of the screen containing the translation. Then used Lview Pro or Irfan View or other image viewer to PASTE the COPYed screen image so that I could use the CROP feature to eliminate what I didn't want. Then I SAVEd the image to my hard drive. You would then use whatever means you have to post it on this web site.

14 posted on 08/22/2002 12:58:33 PM PDT by Consort
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To: Korth
...also, I used an image of the Cyrillic translation because I couldn't get it to display as a non-image, which would require using the HTML feature to invoke a Cyrillic font on this web site which it probably doesn't have. I think that's correct.
15 posted on 08/22/2002 1:07:12 PM PDT by Consort
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To: jae471
they did. Ex- president Bill Clinton was the first dodo since the original extinction.BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
16 posted on 08/22/2002 1:09:03 PM PDT by lexington minuteman 1775
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To: Korth
Oops! Change HTML feature to HTML <font face=".....">
17 posted on 08/22/2002 1:10:22 PM PDT by Consort
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To: Conan the Librarian
A group of creationists in Columbus OH claim to have found frozen dinosaur carcasses in a remote area of Alaska. No kidding. Maybe dinosaurs will be next.
18 posted on 08/22/2002 1:13:48 PM PDT by far sider
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To: Korth
Clone the Founding Fathers!

And give them guns...

19 posted on 08/22/2002 2:29:34 PM PDT by DWSUWF
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To: Korth
This is exciting. When I was a boy a few decades ago I never dreamed I might see such animals alive again in my lifetime.
20 posted on 08/22/2002 2:40:21 PM PDT by BigBobber
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To: BigBobber
This is exciting. When I was a boy a few decades ago I never dreamed I might see such animals alive again in my lifetime.

Ok ....the reason i am posting this is because of this particular statement in your post:

I never dreamed I might see such animals alive again in my lifetime.

Again?

If we are refering to the mammoths i guess the question i should ask you is exactly how old are you? You must be in the millenia by now.

:D

21 posted on 08/22/2002 3:01:06 PM PDT by spetznaz
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To: Lokibob
unfortunately, the wooly mammoths never became extinct, the just suffer from male pattern baldness...
22 posted on 08/22/2002 4:59:24 PM PDT by teeman8r
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Blast from the Past. A GGG non-ping.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest
-- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

23 posted on 06/12/2005 6:04:25 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (FR profiled updated Tuesday, May 10, 2005. Fewer graphics, faster loading.)
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To: Korth
Imagine the size of the steak!!
24 posted on 06/12/2005 6:07:10 PM PDT by airborne (Dear Lord, please be with my family in Iraq. Keep them close to You and safely in Your arms.)
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