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FUMARE

Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Michael Crichton called, and he wants his idea back...

Scientists have mapped part of the genome of the woolly mammoth, a huge mammal that's been extinct for about 10,000 years.

The breakthrough could lead to recreating the creatures.
A team led by Hendrik Poinar at McMaster University unlocked secrets of the animal's nuclear DNA by working with a well-preserved 27,000-year-old specimen from Siberia. Colleagues at Penn State sequenced 1 percent of the genome in a few hours and say they expect to finish the whole genome in about a year if funding is provided.
Make mammoths?
“More importantly our discovery means that recreating extinct hybrid animals is theoretically possible," Poinar said.
The scientists are already pondering the ethics involved.
"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."
Researchers admit, however, that creating an extinct beast from scratch is not something they know how to do yet.
“While we can now retrieve the entire genome of the woolly mammoth, that does not mean we can put together the genome into organized chromosomes in a nuclear membrane with all the functional apparatus needed for life," said Ross MacPhee, a researcher at the American Museum of Natural History who worked on the project. "We can't even do that with modern DNA."

Other researchers have expressed a desire to revive the mammoth by injecting frozen sperm DNA—if they can find some—into elephants. Over several generations, they'd create a creature that's 88 percent mammoth.
In August, an American research team proposed restoring elephants, cheetahs and other African animals to the American plains. And a Russian team has created a Pleistocene Park to investigate mysteries of the mammoth.

Full story at:
http://www.livescience.com/animalworld/051219_mammoth_dna.html

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