Biological activities of Woolly mammoth nuclei was observed by Japanese scientists, could the prehistoric giants be brought back to life?
The 28,000-year-old remains of a woolly mammoth, named ‘Yuka’, were found in Siberian permafrost. The study group recovered the less-damaged nucleus-like structures from the remains and visualised their dynamics in living mouse oocytes after nuclear transfer (aka cloning). In the reconstructed oocytes, the mammoth nuclei showed the spindle assembly, histone incorporation and partial nuclear formation; however, the full activation of nuclei for cleavage was not confirmed. The scientists hope their work provides a platform to evaluate the biological activities of nuclei in extinct animal species.
Wolly mammoth an ice age giant often found plodding in animated movies like The ice age, actually died out just over 4,000 years ago, and climate change was one of the most probable reason for their death apart from alleged viral infections but could the prehistoric giants be soon back to life? Probably not, however the work by the team led by Dr. Akira Iritani from Institute of Advanced Technology, Kindai University, Wakayama,Japan provides a platform to evaluate the biological activities of nuclei in extinct animal species.
Their results published in the journal Nature Scientific reports indicates that “a part of mammoth nuclei possesses the potential for nuclear reconstitution, while observing possible signs of repair to damaged mammoth DNA.” However despite the successes, the scientists did not observe the further cell division necessary to create a viable egg, “possibly due to the extensive DNA damage in the transferred nuclei”.
Researcher Kei Miyamoto, one of the study’s authors told Japan’s Nikkei news outlet. “We want to move our study forward to the stage of cell division,” he added, but acknowledged “we still have a long way to go”.
The samples of woolly mammoth (named Yuka) used in the present study was found in Siberian permafrost in 2010. The animal, is beleived to be of about seven-years-old at the time of death and it is one of the best preserved mammoths known to science. Dr. Akira’s team extracted tissue samples from the animal’s bone marrow and muscle. It is worth mentioning that most mammoth populations died out between 14,000 and 10,000 years ago. The last mainland population existed in the Kyttyk peninsula of Siberia until 9,650 years ago. But the species is observed to be surviving for another 5,000 years on Siberian islands, which became cut off from the mainland by retreating ice following the last ice age. The last known population remained on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean until 4,000 years ago – well beyond the dawn of human civilisation, but finally becoming extinct around the time of the construction of the pyramids of Giza in Egypt. The real cause for their extinction is still a issue where no scientific consensus has been reached, climate change leading to habitat destruction and hunting by humans are commonly discussed theories and works like that of Dr. Akira might shine some light on the other aspects of their extinction.
Note: The article has been edited for style and length
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