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!