Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to bring the woolly mammoth back from extinction, as a new multimillion dollar cloning facility in Russia is set to announce plans to bring cave lions and other species back to life with a view to repopulating Russia’s remote wilderness with the ancient animals.
The new Jurassic Park-style cloning centre will be a “world class paleo-genetic scientific hub” in the world’s coldest city, Yakutsk, located in Russia’s remote, frozen north-east.
Famed for his love of black bears, Vladimir Putin’s exact plans for the woolly mammoths will be unveiled in September at an investment forum but international experts say the center will aim “to study extinct animals from living cells – and to restore such creatures as the woolly mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, cave lion and breeds of long-gone horses.“
Woolly mammoths went extinct around 10,000 years ago, but humans know a lot about them because of where they lived. The permafrost of the Arctic preserved many woolly mammoth bodies almost intact. Closely related to today’s Asian elephants, they looked a lot like their modern cousins, except for one major difference. They were covered in a thick coat of brown hair to keep them warm in their home on the Arctic plains. They even had fur-lined ears.
The Mirror reports: The cloning laboratories – some sunk deep in the permafrost soil – will extend research by Russian scientists who are already working closely with South Korean specialists.
They’ve found DNA from the ancient animals preserved in remains encased in frozen soil – or permafrost – for tens of thousands of years.
Dr Lena Grigorieva – who drafted plans for the centre – said: “There is no such unique material anywhere else in the world.
“We study not only Pleistocene animals – another line is the study of the history of settlement of the North-East of Russia.
“Northern ethnic groups have a unique ancient genetic structure.
“Such studies will help in the study of rare genetic diseases, their diagnosis, prevention.”
The university has existing close cooperation with South Korean SOOAM Biotech Research Foundation, led by cloning expert Professor Hwang Woo-Suk.
There are also links between Russian scientists and Harvard University geneticist Professor George Church who plans to inset woolly mammoth genes into an Asian elephant embryo by 2020.
If successful it will create a mammoth-elephant hybrid and there are plans for the species to roam free in Siberia’s Pleistocene Park, which is seeking to recreate the habitat of the far north of Yakutia when the hairy giants once lived.