Scientists in Russia have taken the next step in their dreams of cloning a mammoth with the launch of a laboratory devoted to bringing back the animals which died out about 3,600 years ago.
According to The Moscow Times, the lab is a joint project between Russian and South Korean scientists and had been in the works for three years as part of a deal between North Eastern Federal University in Sakha, Russia and South Korea's Sooam Biotech Research Foundation. Geek Snack reports that BGI also is helping in the work.
The lab has about 2,000 frozen samples of ancient animals, including the Malolyakhovsky mammoth, estimated to be up to 28,000 years old, which was discovered with its flesh still red, the result of permafrost which covers the Sakha region. The samples are currently stored at minus-87 degrees Celsius.
While the ultimate goal is to clone the mammoth, and other long-gone critters, the scientists tell The Moscow Times that that won't happen any time soon. "I think [this goal] is unattainable in my lifetime," Lena Grigoryeva, a researcher in the lab, says.
Still, the work she and her colleagues are doing have value today as the planet is undergoing a mass extinction. Their research, Grigoryeva says, "contributes to the scientific progress" that could at least slow down the process or even reverse it.
According to Geek Snack, the scientists also hope to clone other extinct species such as the woolly rhinoceros, ancient bison, cave bears, and cave lions. If successful, they envision a kind of Jurassic Park populated by de-extinct animals and vegetation.
Their work is one of a handful of other projects to resurrect the mammoth. George Church also is trying to clone the animal as are Kyoto University researchers.