The amazing Pleistocene Park
Bringing extinct animals back to life was once only a pipe dream but modern technology could soon allow it to become a reality. In Jurassic Park the emphasis was on dinosaurs but in this park in the snowy corner of Russia, plans are afoot to bring the wooly mammoth back to life. Read on to see how we could soon be seeing this ancient hairy giant brought back to life for the first time.
Back to the future
Deep in Siberia, something potentially quite special is happening. Pleistocene Park is part of a scientific research station not too shy from the Arctic tundra and following on from his father Sergey’s plans, Nikita Zimov is intent on turning it into something never before seen on this Earth, a woolly mammoth reserve. It may sound like it belongs in the next sci-fi blockbuster, but this is a deadly serious venture. The woolly mammoth roamed the Earth just over 10,000 years ago, much more recently than the dinosaurs that drew their last breath 65 million years ago. Therefore the mammoth DNA would not have completely degraded and have the potential to be used to let it rise again.
It’s not quite cloning
As no mammoths are currently living, cloning is simply out of the question as there are no living cells to do it. Instead there is a plan to insert mammoth DNA into elephants, creating a cross-breed that would not be too dissimilar from the mammoths of old.
Why breed mammoths anyway?
What is unknown to many is that the icy wastes of Siberia were once an area of lush grassland. Scientists are keen to try and bring this back as it could be a novel way of preventing climate change. In summer the new grassland would reflect sunlight better than tundra while the existing permafrost would help store carbon rather than release it into the atmosphere. This new area would be the perfect home for a new breed of mammoth and similar modern grazing animals like bison are already being brought in to test whether it could be a breeding ground in the future for these prehistoric giants.
Will it work?
It remains to be seen whether the hard work of the father and son team will come to anything but nonetheless it is an encouraging sign for the future. As a race, we need to be careful what we do and don’t change and not just bring animals back for the sake of it but if it will help bring back old species and even fight against climate change, there could well be an exciting future on its way.
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