Skip to comments.Woolly mammoth genome comes to life (Jurassic Park, here we come)
Posted on 12/22/2005 9:33:04 PM PST by DaveLoneRanger
Decoding extinct genomes now possible, says geneticist A McMaster University geneticist, in collaboration with genome researchers from Penn State University and the American Museum of Natural History has made history by mapping a portion of the woolly mammoth's genome. The discovery, which has astounded the scientific world, surpasses an earlier study released today by Nature that also concerns the woolly mammoth. Hendrik Poinar, a molecular evolutionary geneticist in the department of anthropology and pathology at McMaster University, says his study involves the vital nuclear DNA within a Mammoth rather than the lesser mitochondria, on which the Nature study is based.
"Mitochondria is so 1980s. It only allows you to look at the maternal side of evolution," says Poinar. "The nuclear DNA we've mapped gives us our first glimpse at both sides of evolution. We can sequence Neanderthals, animals, plants. Basically, if we find a well-preserved specimen, we can sequence its genome."
The discovery occurred when Poinar extracted DNA from a well-preserved Mammoth specimen found in the Siberian permafrost, and sent it to his research colleagues at Penn State, who had just taken possession of the latest technology in genome sequencing. Within hours, his colleagues reported that the machine had sequenced 30 million base pairs, about one percent of the entire Mammoth genome. At this rate, it will take a year to map the entire genome, says Poinar. Funding is currently being sought for the completion of this project.
"We were stunned," says Poinar. "We immediately understood the magnitude of this discovery. Once you successfully sequence a genome, there are a million interesting questions one can begin to address. To acquire the genome of an extinct species is a rare feat. With this level of genetic data we can begin to look at genes to determine what makes a Mammoth a Mammoth. We can finally understand the subtle differences between a Mammoth and its closest living relative, the Indian elephant, but more importantly our discovery means that recreating extinct hybrid animals is theoretically possible."
Woolly mammoths, which have become symbols of the Ice Age, died out 10,000 years ago.
"Naturally there are ethical issues that come with a discovery of this magnitude, and McMaster is already planning the first conference devoted to the ethics of bringing extinct organisms back to life," said Mamdouh Shoukri, vice-president research and international affairs. "We have an obligation as scientists to explore and maintain the responsible use of research."
Very interesting. Hollywood kind of ahead of the block on this one.
Link mammoths to Man in any way, and they will naturally assume we made it go extinct and must now recreate them.
(I'm all for bringing them back as a novelty. There is no need for fruity excuses to do that.)
Seems rather intelligent to me.
I wonder how many missed genomes the researchers had to exterminate until finally getting it right?
Boring. Wake me up when we they get Velocoraptors
This might explain the bazaar behavior from the Democrats in Congress! Maybe they're banking on coming back from extinction :-)
I've been thinking about this...
Recreating dinosaurs might not be a bad idea if: They are edible, or could be genetically altered to be edible. That would be a LOT of meat! Solve world hunger problems right there!
And if they created- and dropped a few real NASTY, carniverous ones where our Death Cultists are running amok. The dinosaurs would be well fed, we'd solve the terrorist problem, and then we could butcher the dino's and feed the starving in Africa!
It would work!
Because the evolutionary history of the mammoths would tell us a lot about their life on Earth.
This is just biogenetics.
...which is intimately related to evolution.
Theodosius Dobzhansky once famously said, "Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution", and that goes double for biogenetics. Evolutionary events and histories can be read from the DNA as easily as the passage of a herd of buffalo can be read from hoofprints.
This summer they found T-Rex bones with spongy, hydrated tissues with intact cellular material inside. No joke. Makes a body question methods used to calculate time.
I don't deny history of variation can be detected in DNA. I do deny that the DNA code speaks to billions of years of random processes and accidents leading to evolution. Kind of like a million dictionaries all spelling out how they got there by chance.
Did Theodosius Dobzhansky ever look at biology from any other "light" than evolution? Or did he seek to interpret from the evolutionary perspective?
Life finds a way....
I want one!
Great. The first thing the Mammoth will do when he sees modern elephants is ask, "Why are you guys all running around nekkid?!?"
And I, for one, welcome our new mutant dinosaur-men overlords.
Cool new science stuff!
As I recall, the quote is ...Nature finds a way...
How about Marilym Monroe? Got any of her d.n.a.?
Sure rather have her cloned then a f-ing wolly mamoth.
A potential problem might be restorationists/environmentalists wanting to place large tracts of land off limits or severely restrict land use in order to bring a species back. They want to do it anyway. This could be another arrow in their quiver.
Pleistocene Park coming soon...how would a BAR 1918AI converted to .375 Whelen do on those big sabertoothy Smilodons?
lol, good choice. You can get the sporter BAR in .338 Win mag, but you would need to alter the magazine layout and produce high capacity ones.
daddy do something!ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
I still remember the corny opening to "The Land of the Lost"
I'm all for bringing them back as an entree...
You know, whenever I see one of the Jurassic Park movies, I always think "no wonder you guys get in trouble, going up against veloceraptors with shotguns... should'a brought some RPGs."
There are times when the prints of one buffalo frequenting an area may be mistaken for a herd. Preconceived notions will poison any serious inquiry.
A certain Senator from NY comes to mind.
No, it's not like that at all.
LOL...no shortage of clinton dna floating around out there...
the sporter BAR is nice bear medicine in 338 Win Mag...but I was actually thinking of the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle designed by ol John Moses himself as used by US forces in WWII, only converted to .375 Whelen which is basically a 30-06 necked to .375 producing not QUITE the ballistics of the .375 Holland&Holland Magnum.
.375 Whelen loaded with Barnes X-bullets fired FULL-AUTO from a BAR's 20 rd mag ought to do well for even the nastiest Cenozoic predators methinks.
Would rather have a .50 cal. RPG's are far too inaccurate.
I think the basis for the PH in Jurassic [really Cretaceous] Park using a SPAS-12 shotgun was the notion that Velociraptors are, as the name suggests, incredibly QUICK...and so a PH might think of them as more the kind of threat a LEOPARD represents rather than say a lion or bear; in real life afterall the prescribed 'medicine' for Africa's dangerous-game 'Big Five' [elephant, Rhino, cape Buffalo, lion, Leopard] is a big bore rifle EXCEPT for leopards where a shotgun with buckshot is preferred.
Velociraptors might indeed pose the same kind of little warning, little reaction time, extreme speed required threat as leopards, leopards however are THIN skinned and LIGHT so the tradeoff of penetration and per-projectile stopping power for greater hit probability is worth it.
Against raptors probably not...but raptors are the real TRICKY problem for anyone in a 'Jurassic Park' scenario; Spielberg got that much right.
But he didn't get the name right; the raptor dinosaurs in JP were NOT 'velociraptors' - VELOCIraptors are much smaller than those in the film.
Small enough that they wouldnt have SEEMED as 'menacing' on screen...so Spielberg 'scaled them up' to twice life size ...the "ooooh loox kewl duuude" Hollyweird approach to sci-fi; i.e. ignore the sci for the sake of the fi if the REAL science isnt as 'kewl' LOOKING - they are afterall motion PICTURES and television SHOWS.
Coincidentally around the same time as Spielberg's film came to theatres real paleontoligists were discovering a larger variety of Raptor which would have fit the bill for an especially nasty dino-villain for Jurassic Park quite nicely; the UTAHraptor [Utahraptor Ostrommaysorum].
At 20 feet long and nearly a ton in weight and armed with a 9 inch sickle claw a Utahraptor would be a, perhaps the, most formidable animal assailant you'd never want to meet, lol.
Add to that that they would jump you in PACKS with cheetah-like speed and from much closer ranges that there smaller size and easier concealment would allow and you have a much more dangerous threat to any humans than T-Rex or other larger carnosaurs and a much more difficult and interesting challenge for anyone trying as a mental exercise to design adequate defensive armament for either hypothetical time-travellers to the Cretaceous or visitors lost in a dinosaur theme park run amok, lol.
The scene in Jurassic Park II where the PH yells at the heavily armed Mercs "Don't go into the grass!!!" is all too chillingly probable an outcome of tangling with Utahraptor packs in such terrain that there are no good counters against in firearms design.
But even if one stays in open enough terrain to stand a chance to SEE a raptor pack before it's on top of you the challenge is daunting; imagine a wolfpack of cheetahs scaled up to the size of Kodiak bears and hard to stop thanks to scales and/or feathers and reptilo-avian brain [think of the 'chicken with it's head cut off' scenario - only with the 'giant chicken' armed with a gutting claw; if it gets close it can kill you even 'dead on it's feet'] and you begin to see the DAUNTING magnitude of the firearms design problem for 'Utahraptor medicine' while 'walking with dinosaurs' lol.
A gun designer simply CAN'T trade off hit probability, or firepower volume/continuity, or stopping power, or penetration, or accuracy OR ANY design parameter for gains in another...one needs it ALL and with raptors as fast as they are one needs it YESTERDAY, lol.
One needs the long range accuracy of a rifle - to hopefully take a running raptor down BEFORE they get very close.
One needs penetration of an 'elephant gun' to punch holes both into and out of them through scaled skin and feathers to maximize exsanguination and hopefully do the same again with more than one behind the first one hit since they will be 'incoming' in numbers and the MORE of the 'wave' you can hit before they ALL get close the better.
One needs the hit probability of a shotgun with buckshot in case they get close in making CROSSING attacks with a lot of ANGULAR velocity to have to track and 'lead' targets against.
One needs the heavy 'knockdown' stopping power of a shotgun SLUG to hopefully put them DOWN; i.e 'knock' them OFF those oh so terribly deadly FEET before they get so close it doesnt matter if you mortally wound them anymore.
One needs the stopping power of high-shock frangible or expanding projectiles to maximize temporary 'stretch' cavitation AND permanent 'crush' cavitation with the largest possible wound volume to maximize shock to the brain and KEEP them down and put them OUT.
One needs the volume of fire of a HIGH cyclic rate FULL automatic because there will be a LOT of shotting needing to be done and little time to do it in.
One needs the continuity of fire of LARGE magazines or BELT FED automatics since there will be a LOT of targets to engage; raptor attacks could be just a few at once, or could be TWO DOZEN incoming at extreme velocity...and one *in Cpl Hicks from Aliens voice* "cant afford to let even ONE of those things get 'inside'" while reloading.
I cant think of any present firearm that fills the bill, or one which can be easily modified to; I thought - briefly - of upscaling an MG-42 type design [built out of Titanium/Scandium to be man-portable] firing 200 rd belts at 1200 rpm of .404 Jeffrey or .416 Rigby loaded with 400 gr Barnes-X hollowpoint solids around 2400 fps...but the RECOIL from such a 'monster gun' would probably be as lethal as the raptors, lol...something NEW would have to be invented for the category of 'raptor gun' imo.
Btw I wouldnt much worry about BIG carnosaurs like T-Rex - simply attach an M203 underbarrel whatever gun you invent for raptors and a 40mm HEDP in the center mass ought to do nicely for big toothies since at that size they arent likely to ambush one unawares.
But with Utahraptors running around I'd prefer to travel through Jurassic Park or the Cretaceous in a Bradley IFV - it's 25mm chaingun sounds like great Utahraptor medicine ;-)
If one HAD to go on foot through 'raptor country' designing and building something close to a handheld equivalent of that would be desirable and one would probably need either an "Aliens" 'smart gun' type support arm or one of those new US military powered leg assist half-exoskeletons to mount it on, lol.
Until our technology advances to the point of being able to go though JP 'dual wielding' phasers on wide-beam stun in one hand and lightsabers in the other that is, LOLOL.
By all means, bring back all the extinct species. After all, we'll need a few sabre-toothed tigers as natural predators to keep down the numbers of mammoths roaming around.
Maybe on a mammoth ranch... not sure if they'd last in the wild, given how they died out once.
Passenger pigeons - now those dead birds are our fault, probably.
I'd be most fascinated to re-release "extinct" sealife. It's hard just knowing what's down there. We've been wrong before about prehistoric fish.
I think this is much more interesting than finds or relatively fresh woolly mammoths. Where can I study up on this?
If one has to settle for a body shot, the .600 nitro shrinks to .22 status. Only a shaped charge projectile would be able to stop ten to thirty tons of mad meat.
Even the explosive heads on whaling harpoons took a while to kill.
Of course one could use a modified napalm which would not rub off easily, and if injected with a Bazooka-like rocket would create the mother of all "smoking holes".
So now just go ahead and clone a Wolly Mammoth, and then the rest of us will be "stunned."
Is that a "sleestack"? If so, I haven't seen one of them since my childhood?
I think a better weapon would be a flame-thrower.
Not too many animals, large or small, are very brave when facing flames.
If you do a google search using these keywords; t-rex, female birds, you'll find a lot of detail.
The most interesting part, to me, of the find is that it confirms that T-rex was a big (really big!) bird.
The spongy tissue they found was the exact same tissue found in female birds bones (and only in female birds) when they're getting ready to lay eggs.
Soft tissue, amazingly found surviving in a hollow cavity of a 68 million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur leg bone fossil has revealed that the ancient creature was a young female that was producing eggs when she died in what is now Montana.
National Science Foundation paleontologists at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences stated in a press release that the presence of this particular tissue provides evidence of the dinosaur's gender, and a connection between dinosaurs and present-day birds.
Scientists believe the tissue is "medullary bone," a type of tissue found in present-day female birds only during ovulation. The tissue forms inside the birds' hollow leg bones and persists until the last egg is laid, at which time it is completely reabsorbed into the bird's body.
The tissue provides calcium needed to produce eggshells.
"The discovery of medullary bone in T. rex is important because it allows us to figure out the gender of a dinosaur," said NSF scientist Mary Schweitzer in a press release. "It also adds to the support linking birds and dinosaurs, and shows that their reproductive physiologies may have been similar. We hope to be able to identify features in dinosaurs that will help determine the gender of other fossils, and lead to information about their herd structure or family groups."
Medullary bone is only found in present-day female birds; no other egg-laying species (including crocodiles, the other living dinosaur relative) produces the tissue naturally.
"Schweitzer's recognition of medullary tissues in T. rex is very important because it indicates a close relationship between dinosaurs and birds," said Enriqueta Barrera, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s earth sciences division, which funded the research. "Birds and dinosaurs may have mobilized calcium and shelled their eggs in a similar manner. The discovery also provides us with the means to identify gender in dinosaurs."
Schweitzer found that the dinosaur tissue was virtually identical to that of the modern birds in form, location and distribution. Removal of the bones' minerals revealed that medullary bone from the ostrich and emu was virtually identical in structure, orientation and even color, with that of the T. rex.
[Source: National Science Foundation]
A flame-thrower would not only stop an entire herd, but would send them fleeing in panic in the opposite direction.
I did a brief keyword search and found this article: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1369945/posts
. A more thorough search would probably yield more articles since I recall seeing several sources. This post has pictures of the cell tissue. Seventy million years old - bah, humbug!
I liked the article in "The Onion" about dolphins developing thumbs. The scientists were all convinced our time as top dog was over.