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Bringing Back The Extinct


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http://www.world-science.net/othernews/060814_extinct.htm

 

Bringing back the extinct

 

Aug. 14, 2006

Special to World Science

 

Researchers say they’ve found that frozen mice retain useable sperm, opening up the possibility of resurrecting extinct species such as the woolly mammoth.

 

mammoth2.JPG

 

A woolly mammoth (Courtesy Antelope Valley Indian Museum, California State Parks)

 

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The scientists said they developed a procedure to freeze sperm in mice and in mouse organs so that the sperm, once thawed, produces healthy offspring.

 

Sperm-freezing is already used for human reproduction, animal breeding, conserving endangered species and propagating animal strains used in research.

 

But the defrosted sperm aren’t always capable of fertilizing an egg.

 

In the new procedure, Atsuo Ogura of the Riken Bioresource Center in Ibaraki, Japan and colleagues said they froze parts or whole bodies of killed mice for a week or up to a year, at -80° Celsius (-112° Fahrenheit).

 

They then extracted sperm from the thawed mice and injected them into mouse eggs, producing healthy offspring, he said. The researchers also reported that sperm retrieved from the bodies of mice that had been frozen for 15 years yielded viable offspring.

 

The findings are published in this week’s early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

The scientists said this approach might bring back extinct species if males of the species were found embedded in permanently frozen ground, known as permafrost. For instance, a frozen mammoth might contain viable sperm, Ogura said.

 

Such sperm could be injected into the egg of a closely related living species, such as an elephant, he added.

 

Another group of Japanese researchers calling themselves the Mammoth Creation Project have previously announced plans to try to resurrect a mammoth in a similar way, but have not announced success. Ogura, while not commenting on that project specifically, said his findings bode well for the possibility of resurrecting mammoths from long-frozen sperm.

 

Other experts have disparaged the idea, saying ancient DNA is typically too broken-up to be usable. They have also questioned the ethics of bringing back the mammoth, extinct for 10,000 years, since its natural habitat, too, is long gone. The Mammoth Creation Project scientists, though, say they’ve obtained permission to put their creations into a suitable sanctuary twice the size of Japan, in Siberia.

 

A more immediate problem with resurrecting a mammoth from sperm, Ogura said, is that a mammoth sperm and an elephant egg wouldn’t produce an actual mammoth. It would instead more likely spawn a mixed creature, or hybrid, halfway between a mammoth and a modern elephant.

 

His proposed solution: repeat the procedure, taking an egg from the mammoth-elephant mix and fertilizing it again with mammoth sperm. This would produce an animal 75 percent mammoth. Additional repeats would lead to better and better likenesses of the original.

 

“I do not know the reality of this scenario, but hope that I or any others will have a chance to try it,” he wrote in an email.

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At the rate species are dying off now, we're may have to start bringing back extinct species. Although I'm not sure why we would be able to get them going when we seem to have a problem keeping the ones we have.

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The way we are progressing in genetic engineering, it may be good to have as much of it on the 'shelf' as possible. I know that there has a been a concern in saving declining plant species, because who knows what benefits we may be able to derive from them in the future. Why wouldn't this be the same with the animal kingdom also?

 

Reverend, do you know if there are any studies or possibility considerations to be able to go back and genetically 'reactivate' some of our old capabilities? It seems we, at one time, had gills and other things. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to breathe under water also, and regenerate new parts?

 

Maybe with genetic engineering, it will be better the more genetic material we have within our immediate access. Now to recreate the wooly mamoth... I don't see how that would be beneficial! :ohmy:

 

I've heard elephants are afraid of mice, so maybe Fwee can save us should a resurrected wooly mamoth get out of hand? :Hmm:

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Reverend, do you know if there are any studies or possibility considerations to be able to go back and genetically 'reactivate' some of our old capabilities?

 

Is it possible? Yes, it is within the realm of possibility. Is it likely? I would put it at vanishingly improbable--although I may be entirely wrong. First the possibility side:

 

It's clear that we can take genes from one species and move them across large gaps in phylogentic space. (Fish genes in tomatoes, that kind of thing) We *might* be able to do the same thing with the gene for gills and all of the apparatus but it would be more complicated than that. Because we'd also have to have the means to continue to breathe gaseous air. Not impossible but vanishingly improbable.

 

It seems we, at one time, had gills and other things.

 

Well, not 'we'. Every land animal is descended from creatures that at once lived in the water, but that is very far back in evolutionary time.

 

 

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to breathe under water also, and regenerate new parts?

 

The second one is probably something that is achievable because the design space jump isn't as huge. It would basically be amping up our cellular repair mechanism. That said, I would still put it in the realm of improbable.

 

Now to recreate the wooly mamoth... I don't see how that would be beneficial!

 

Actually it would answer a couple of questions.

 

1> Could we, at some point, reverse some of the biodiversity damage we've done

2> How far apart do two individuals have to be in order for there to be reproductive isolation (which according to Mayr, is the most usable definition of species).

 

By the way, my bet is a firm "maybe". If the distance between the mammoth and either extant elephant isn't that close then we have the womb we need. Otherwise, mammoths are gone because having the genes is only half the battle, you still need a womb that knows what to do with those genes.

 

Cheers

lf

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Well, the idea is kind of cool but what exactly are we going to do with a mammoth?

 

I'd still rather see them try to bring by the Thylacine or the Dodo or the Ivory Billed Woodpecker.

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At the rate species are dying off now, we're may have to start bringing back extinct species. Although I'm not sure why we would be able to get them going when we seem to have a problem keeping the ones we have.

 

I think we should have some kind of DNA bank for all the world's animals. That way when we kill off the very last anaimal that can't adapt to our man-made environment, we can make them and keep them in zoos. Hey, at least they'll still be around somewhere.

 

The way we are progressing in genetic engineering, it may be good to have as much of it on the 'shelf' as possible. I know that there has a been a concern in saving declining plant species, because who knows what benefits we may be able to derive from them in the future. Why wouldn't this be the same with the animal kingdom also?

 

Reverend, do you know if there are any studies or possibility considerations to be able to go back and genetically 'reactivate' some of our old capabilities? It seems we, at one time, had gills and other things. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to breathe under water also, and regenerate new parts?

 

Maybe with genetic engineering, it will be better the more genetic material we have within our immediate access. Now to recreate the wooly mamoth... I don't see how that would be beneficial! :ohmy:

 

I've heard elephants are afraid of mice, so maybe Fwee can save us should a resurrected wooly mamoth get out of hand? :Hmm:

 

I think as science reaches a certain point just about anything will be possible. Don't like something about yourself? Just go in and rewrite it in your dna. It's far fetched now, but the march of science is never ending.

 

I would love to see a wooly mammoth live and in person! It'd be great! Seeing it in drawings, as a skeleton and as a mammoth-sicle just don't do this beautiful animal justice!

 

 

Well, the idea is kind of cool but what exactly are we going to do with a mammoth?

 

I'd still rather see them try to bring by the Thylacine or the Dodo or the Ivory Billed Woodpecker.

 

Let it live and appreciate it. Can you imagine watching a mammoth in the snow as did our ancestors so long ago? Of course, we won't be hunting it for food, but it'll be much the same.

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I think we should have some kind of DNA bank for all the world's animals. That way when we kill off the very last anaimal that can't adapt to our man-made environment, we can make them and keep them in zoos. Hey, at least they'll still be around somewhere.
I think they are starting that in either Norway or Sweden. I'll see if I can find an article.

 

Edit: can't find anything, so perhaps I was mistaken.

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If they want to refertilize eggs with mammoth sperm they`ll need a few donors. If they keep using the same sperm they run into the chances of the offspring developping congenital deformities or family related diseases. Finding one mammoth with viable sperm is going to be hard, now two...

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I think we should have some kind of DNA bank for all the world's animals. That way when we kill off the very last anaimal that can't adapt to our man-made environment, we can make them and keep them in zoos. Hey, at least they'll still be around somewhere.
I think they are starting that in either Norway or Sweden. I'll see if I can find an article.

 

Edit: can't find anything, so perhaps I was mistaken.

 

It would make sense that someone had started something like this. I'll look for it later.

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Well, the idea is kind of cool but what exactly are we going to do with a mammoth?

 

I'd still rather see them try to bring by the Thylacine or the Dodo or the Ivory Billed Woodpecker.

 

Let it live and appreciate it. Can you imagine watching a mammoth in the snow as did our ancestors so long ago? Of course, we won't be hunting it for food, but it'll be much the same.

 

Yeah, I'd admit that would be really awesome, but I'm just wondering if this happens what next? Are we going to keep recreating them until we get an established herd going in the wild or just keep them around as zoo attractions?

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If they want to refertilize eggs with mammoth sperm they`ll need a few donors. If they keep using the same sperm they run into the chances of the offspring developping congenital deformities or family related diseases. Finding one mammoth with viable sperm is going to be hard, now two...

 

I think they can do clones now, genetic material just from one animal. I don't know if it has to be a female or not... however, I think they have cloned sheep and other animals by implanting the identicle DNA of one animal into a womb.

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Yeah, I'd admit that would be really awesome, but I'm just wondering if this happens what next? Are we going to keep recreating them until we get an established herd going in the wild or just keep them around as zoo attractions?

 

I worry that if we had that we'd have poachers taking them out and selling their meat and tusks on the black market. :( Hell, I'm sure there'd even be a market for rugs made out of genuine mammoth hair!

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