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28,000-year-old mammoth cells have shown reactivity in mouse egg cells (www.nature.com)
68 points by PierredeFermat 10 days ago | hide | past | web | 37 comments | favorite

Does anybody know why so much mammoth research comes out of Korea and Japan?

It might be geographic proximity to Siberia and thus abundance of research material, which drives some funding to do more research which then drives more funding, etc.

Stepping stone on the way to making Godzilla a thing...

Or possibly just an abundance of biology graduates who need something to do.

Probably because they are the two most proximate advanced nations to much of siberia where these mammoths are found. Also, korean and japanese universities might have scientific funding and research agreements with their russian counterparts.

With the ice caps melting, is there a big demand for Woolly Mammoths right now?

I'm just asking.

I saw a program on discovery channel a while back on how resurrecting mammoths would help with preserving the permafrost.

Edit: A related article: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/shanephipps/2017/06/20/mammoth...

Does that make sense? The logic is that woolly mammoths would... am I reading this right? Tamp down the permafrost? Like, they'd literally just squish the ground on top of it to compact it and insulate the permafrost from rising temperatures? And they'd knock over trees... that's... that's the plan?

EDIT: Apparently, yes, that is seriously the idea. But the scale required to make a difference, and the cost to get to that scale boggles my mind. You can't just whip up one pack of mammoths and call it a success...

While the scale required is huge, mammoths are just one of the players here. I am not sure if you have heard of pleistocene park were they have started with horse, karibou, sheep, yak and a few others and already seen some effects. All those animals are seeking plants in some form or the other in the winter and by doing so move the snow cover that is insulating the permafrost, letting the cold seek deeper into it (or rather letting the warmth diffuse out). Mammoths are a key species as they as larger mammals are more prone to trampel down larger vegetation like trees to create the ecosystem all together.

> But the scale required to make a difference, and the cost to get to that scale boggles my mind. You can't just whip up one pack of mammoths and call it a success...

I assume the idea is that if you can create your big furry von Neumann machines correctly in the first place, you only need to whip up one pack of mammoths and it will indeed then be a success eventually.

It defies logic but case in point: the re-introduction of wolves actually changed rivers in Yellowstone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysa5OBhXz-Q .

Not claiming this proposal will have the same impact, or even a positive one.

Well the president did suggest we take forest floors to prevent wildfires, so..

I suspect that you'd just get lots of mammoths sunk in the mud.

Maybe, just maybe, they can make mammoths big as mice and maybe a minified Jurassic Park so politicians will not get scared and say "this things are killing us". Imagine the mammoth pet...awww

Hmm, that might be something for a wildlife park. Just make sure that they can't escape. Put the park on an island in the pacific just to be sure.

Also spare no expense.

Also hire only one IT guy.

Also develop the perfect hack-proof systems: https://jurassicsystems.com/

They make for good PR and are truly extinct; recent extinctions have the potential to be a little less cut-and-dry.

We'll need the research if we ever try to bring back species that went extinct in modern times.

I have yet to hear a convincing argument for "resurrecting" the woolly mammoth. The entire enterprise seems to be an abominably cruel and misspent effort.

I've heard some argue we might need to resurrect a lot of species we're killing off in the next 100 years, so it's good practice. Better practice would be looking at those animals we expect to go extinct. Or, yanno, trying to stop the extinction in the first place.

If you understand French, watch this: https://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/078777-000-A/siberie-les-avent... you'll be convinced.

If you don't: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleistocene_Park

Basically we need them for an earth-scale experiment that will try to prevent the permafost from unfreezing, thanks to ruminant eating the grass through the snow, thus breaking the snow insulation that prevents the ground from re-freezing deep in winter. If the permafrost do unfreeze, I believe the climate is doomed.

edits: typos

It has english subtitles, just watched, very educational.

Although there may be some, such as the same techniques being used to de-extinct other more recent species, I think a certain amount of it is "because it's there", and that the irrational desire to accomplish such an outlandish thing may provide motivation and funding from corners that otherwise wouldn't do so.

I think it was Jack Horner who was trying to reverse engineer a chicken back into a velociraptor and said something to the effect of that he didn't feel that his efforts would do anything to help humanity, but that the science justified itself, because it was what he wanted to do, to see if it was possible.

Of course, with that story, we have a great series of movies to tell us how it probably ends...

From that bit about Jack Horner, I can't help but be reminded of this panel[0] from a Spider-Man comic.

[0] https://i.imgur.com/lmeZ6SD.jpg

that's it, exactly.

Can this not be the top comment?

I don’t know about you guys but I want an exciting future to look forward to. Space travel, and fantastic cloned animals!

let’s get something hopeful and inspiring up here.

Why not both efforts? Let's try stop the extinction but let's also face the reality that there are a lot of forces working against that effort so maybe a little practice is good?

If we want to pause extinction we need to pause population growth (because more people means encroachment into wilderness and resource extraction). Climate change is a smaller concern when it comes to immediate effect on endangered species survival.

On the other hand there isn’t much we can do about it, unless you’re India or China who can control population via policies (economic, reproductive and cohercive).

Naturally pops will decline, but that’s decades ahead.

Population growth is in decline in real terms [0], but as you say it will take decades, unless you advocate enforced involuntary euthenasia. Even plunging populations, as Japan is experiencing [1], brings other problems such as economic recession. We really need to stop worrying about population [2] and revisit some baseless norms of common policy, such as "trickle-down economics" and other Friedman gems that leads to rampant overconsumption and wealth concentration.

There is hope, we just need to listen to those who want a change, not those who just want to maintain their already huge asset piles.

0: https://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_on_global_population_... 1: https://www.npr.org/2018/12/21/679103541/japans-population-i... 2: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Modest_Proposal

Only crazies think euthanasia is an option. There are alternatives to forced contraception. Education and economic engagement and opportunity, eliminating taboos on personal contraception and making them available. Yes, consumerism is a problem, but it’s manageable in countries with the infrastructure.

What’s bad is encroaching in on wilderness for farming, resource mining/extraction, and population settlements.

In addition to what other have said, I think the part mammoths play in pop culture plays a huge part here. Nobody would be (or rather is as those already exist) interested in some worm frozen worm or even the equally interesting woolly rhino, cave hyena or giant elk. I think its a combination of our fascination in elephants as huge animal with an astonishing social structure very like us and the fact that mammoths once not so long ago (once again, egyptian pyramids are older) played an important role in our (northern europe and asia where most of the research is coming from) history, after all there are many cave paintings depicting mammoths. As such, I think this research is not so much biological research but rather a big social historic project where we recreate what once was.

That, the point that the involved techniques may prove valuable in other projects and because mammoths once played an important role as mega herbivorous in steppes of the northern hemisphere (which were once as species rich as the African savanna and we know the touristic attraction of that)

Well, like programming and robotics, you often need a "problem" to solve to advance your practical skills. The mammoth project is pretty wicked in the sense that the problem focuses efforts to build skills. It's a holy grail project for DNA work. The skills gained in trying to resurrect the mammoth can be applied to myriad other needs, right?

There are many better candidates, like the Passenger Pigeon or Dodo, which were extincted recently and directly by humans.

Nobody has samples of them preserved by permafrost. The advantage of going for mammoths is the large amount of tissue available to work with that hasn't been desiccated or damaged by chemical preservatives.

These are going to taste like shit.

Ah, now I'll have steeds for my robot army!

We won't win the war, but we'll look awesome.

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