More and more, there is news that scientists are going to revive or have already revived extinct life forms. The situation is reminiscent of science fiction films and books. True, we are not talking about the restoration of the dinosaur population, at least for now. But mammoths have a chance for a new life, like some other animals and plants. And today we will tell you about the five most promising scientific studies in this direction.
The resurrection of Ancient Moss
While some British scientists are acquiring international grants, studying completely stupid questions like researching suicide among ducklings, others are engaged in real science, about which the most authoritative scientific journals write, and not the yellow newspapers in the “Curiosities” section. For example, a team of British and New Zealand researchers were able to successfully unfreeze and bring back to life several moss sprouts found in the Antarctic ice.
The study of moss sprouts of the species Chorisodontium aciphyllum showed that they were covered with ice and frozen about one and a half thousand years ago, but now they are back to life. After two weeks of slow thawing, these sprouts gave new shoots, which was proof of their revitalization.
Cloning a mammoth
There is also a lot of snow and ice in Yakutia. But there they decided to aim at much more ambitious goals! Scientists from the North-Eastern Federal University (Yakutsk), while studying the found carcass of a mammoth frozen forty-three thousand years ago, discovered vessels filled with hemolyzed blood.
The study of this brown liquid showed that it was formed not after the death of the animal, but even at the time when he was walking in the vastness of modern Yakutia, it contains erythrocytes, leukocytes, and hemoglobin.
The representative of the Association of Medical Anthropologists of the Russian Federation, Radik Khairullin, who took part in the research, said that scientists began to seriously consider the possibility of cloning a long-extinct animal. True, it will not be possible to create a full-fledged mammoth, because the genes of the ancient proboscis will need to be crossed with the genetic material of the modern elephant. So the result is just a hybrid.
Cloning an extinct frog embryo
However, despite the success of cloning as such, humankind cannot boast of the revival of many extinct animals with the help of appropriate technologies – successful cases are numbered in units. But the process is underway. For example, Australians from the University of New South Wales have been studying the issue of returning the frog Rheobatrachus silus to nature for several years.
This type of amphibian was known for the fact that mothers carried their fertilized eggs in the stomach until the frogs themselves jumped out of the parent’s mouth. Caring frogs (another name for the species) have been considered extinct since 1983. But back in the seventies, scientists froze samples of their tissues, from which they are now trying to restore the animal.
As part of the Lasarus project, they want to recreate caring frogs by transplanting the nuclei of their somatic cells into an egg cell of the closely related species Mixophyes fasciolatus. But so far, scientists have only managed to clone embryos with several hundred cells – the process is not progressing further for various reasons. However, with the development of new technologies, these difficulties can be overcome.
Australian scientists hope to clone not only the caring toy but some other animals that have become extinct on this continent in the past few decades. One of them is the legendary marsupial wolf, the last recorded representative of which died at the zoo in the Tasmanian city of Hobart in 1936.
The Tasmanian wolf cloning project was launched in 1999 with the support of scientific institutions in Australia, Great Britain and the United States. As a basis for the genetic material, tissue samples from the young of this animal, alcoholized in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, were taken. In 2002, they even managed to extract them, but it turned out that they were all damaged. True, in 2008, scientists were still able to make one of the genes of the marsupial wolf work in the embryo of a laboratory mouse.
The project has not made any further progress yet. The available samples are categorically not enough for successful research. And the technologies that scientists have at their disposal are far from perfect. The project is temporarily suspended.
Breeding zebra quagga
And the most successful project to date to revive an extinct animal species has done without cloning and genetic engineering at all. We are talking about an odd-hoofed animal with the name quagga, the last individual of which died at the Amsterdam Zoo in 1883.
For a hundred years, scientists have argued whether the quagga is a separate species of animal, or is it still a subspecies of the still living and living steppe zebra. And only in the mid-eighties of the twentieth century, a comparison of DNA showed that there is no difference between these two animals. And, therefore, by the selection, individuals can be raised that do not differ from a real quagga.
The first brood consisted of only nine heads. In 2005, the first representative of the fourth generation of this revived zebra appeared – it was recognized as a typical quagga, more similar to the original animal than stuffed animals in museums.
Now more than sixty quaggas live in South Africa and Namibia, and the process of breeding them does not stop. So in just a couple of decades, it will be possible to confidently assert that this subspecies of zebra has been successfully revived, and its population has stabilized at the level necessary for independent existence.