Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013



We here at the DUNER BLOG just love the science-fiction movie Jurassic Park.  What separates this film from the million other silly dinosaur movies is author Michael Chichton's plausible premise.  It goes like this:  If we find dinosaur blood... that means we have 'Dino DNA'...so then we can re-create dinosaurs in the laboratory!   Well folks, fiction may soon become fact.  (The only problem is the animal discovered is less popular than T-Rex.)  Nonetheless, it could happen.  Last week, insane scientists recovered a 10,000 year old Woolly Mammoth carcass on Lyakhovsky Island off Siberia's Arctic Ocean coast...complete with DNA. 

Yakutsk in Winter.
The research team is from the nearby University of Yakutsk.  Prior to the discovery, Yakutsk's only claim to fame was an obscure achievement in the Guinness Book of World Records.  Specifically, Yakutsk is the site of the coldest (non-Antarctic) temperature ever.  In 1961, a temperature of -82°C (-116F) was recorded at the aptly named "Pole of Cold."  Yakut folklore says it gets so cold in winter, that one's words become instantly frozen in the air and cannot reach your friends.  However, during the spring, the snow melts and your words thaw and will be heard.  Anyhow, the only other thing (aside from native wisdom) found in Yakutsk is diamonds.  That's why Stalin moved Russians there and built a Soviet city on the banks of Lena River in the 1930's.

Re-creation courtesy of the New York Post.
Oops...we got a little off-subject.  Back to the mammoth.  The research team, led by famed mammoth hunter Semyon Grigoriev, has been looking for specimens for decades.  Lately, their search has been aided by global warming, which effects Siberia immensely.  This year, the permafrost is at an all-time low and once unapproachable Arctic islands can now be explored.  Dodging frozen icebergs and fierce polar bears, the research crew finally found their specimen.  Relentlessly, they excavated the body and returned to Yakutsk with a hero's welcome!

But can Woolly Mammoth blood really last 10,000 years?  Let's ask Professor Grigoriev.  "The blood is very dark.  It was found in ice cavities bellow the belly.  When we broke these cavities with a poll pick, the blood came running out." Next, the samples will be shipped to research facilities around the globe. Soon, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC and Toronto University will be busy analyzing data.  However, we here at the DUNER BLOG are more interested in South Korea' Sooam Biotech Foundation.  Their "Mammoth Rebirth Project" is getting precariously close to recreating a living mammoth.

While every Siberian dreams of herds of Woolly Mammoth, plodding along the frozen tundra again, it's important to remember: Unfortunately, we are still a long way off from building an actual Jurassic Park amusement parkSee, the only time humans have successfully re-created an extinct species was in Japan in 2009.  For seven glorious minutes, a Pyrenean Ibex came to life in a laboratory.  It had a pulse and produced body warmth.  Then...BAM!  It died of lung failure.  While we have faith in the South Koreans, we don't want to get any one's hopes up!  But rest assured...if an mammoth, ibex or brontosaurus is ever brought back to life...we here at the DUNER BLOG will bring you the story...FIRST!!


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