Siberian fragments may help resurrect mammoth

September 12th, 2012 - 6:29 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 12 (IANS) Fragments from a well-preserved frozen woolly mammoth, discovered deep in the Siberian wilderness, may help scientists in cloning the pre-historic animal if they find its living cells, a move that may take us closer to a ‘Jurassic Park’ reality, a report says.

Russia’s North-Eastern Federal University said an international team of researchers had discovered mammoth hair, soft tissues and bone marrow some 100 metres underground during a summer expedition in the northeastern province of Yakutia.

Expedition chief Semyon Grigoryev said Korean scientists with the team had set a goal of finding living cells in the hope of cloning a mammoth. Scientists have previously found bones and fragments but not living cells.

It would take months of research to determine whether they have indeed found the cells, the Telegraph quoted Grigory as telling the online newspaper Vzglyad.

“Only after thorough laboratory research it will be known whether these are living cells or not,” he said, adding that would take until the end of the year at the earliest.

Woolly mammoths are thought to have died out around 10,000 years ago, although scientists think small groups of them lived longer in Alaska and on Russia’s Wrangel Island off the Siberian coast.

Scientists already have deciphered much of the genetic code of the woolly mammoth from balls of mammoth hair found frozen in the Siberian permafrost. Some believe it’s possible to recreate the prehistoric animal if they find living cells in the permafrost.

Those who succeed in recreating an extinct animal could claim a “Jurassic Park prize”, the concept of which is being developed by the X Prize Foundation that awarded a 2004 prize for the first private spacecraft.

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