A new frog species found in New York and New Jersey
A new frog species has been discovered in the midst of some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers. The frogs are believed to have lived among us for a century without being recognized. "So much for the notion that new species are never found in America," comments Loren Coleman. Over at Frontiers of Zoology, Dale Drinnon rounds up reports of giant snakes in New Mexico over the past few decades. From the descriptions, the snakes are sometimes as large as telephone poles and over 12 feet long. One man recalls seeing the ground heaving up and down supposedly as a giant snake breathed, which makes us think of the giant underground worms in Tremors, but as far as we know Kevin Bacon is not involved.
Cloning a Mammoth?
Scientists from the Northeastern Federal University in the Siberian city of Yakutsk and the Center of Biotechnological Studies in Seoul are launching a joint project to clone an animal that became extinct many thousands years ago – the mammoth.
“The aim of our project is to study the genetic codes of primeval animals,” Semyon Grigoryev, a biologist from Yakutsk, says. “But the main objective is to clone a mammoth.”
It may seem like an easy task: simply extract genetic material from mammoth remains, transplant it into an egg cell of a modern female elephant, wait for 22 months (an elephant’s pregnancy period) and get a real mammoth! But the most difficult thing would be finding well-preserved genetic material.
“Our Korean colleagues are worried that the genetic material from mammoth remains found in Siberia may not be viable enough for that,” another biologist, Gennady Boeskurov, says.
“Sometimes, specimens of mammoth remains are so well preserved, almost as if the animal died yesterday. But they may not be as “fresh” as they look, because the ice of the so-called permafrost layer in Siberia sometimes melts in summer. So I don’t believe it is actually possible to find living cells in mammoths’ remains found in Siberia.”
It is known that microorganisms and plants could remain viable in a state of anabiosis (a state of suspended animation) for thousands of years, and then come back to life. But this does not work for mammoths.
Nevertheless, the project’s participants are still hoping to find a mammoth fossil that has never experienced a thaw. For this purpose, the Koreans are planning to bring a mobile laboratory to Yakutia (of which Yakutsk is the administrative center) this summer.
“There is another way to clone a mammoth – by using the so-called ‘indirect’ cloning method,” Gennady Boeskurov says.
“Fragments of mammoth DNA can be found in their remains in the Siberian permafrost, and we can restore the genetic codes of these animals that became extinct long ago. In fact, scientists have already decoded 50% of the mammoth’s genetic code. Many laboratories all over the world are working on that, and, if the mammoth’s genome is fully decoded, it would be possible to modify the genetic code of modern elephants and clone a mammoth in this way.”
The head of the Korean team of scientists, Mr. Hwang Woo-suk, an expert in stem cells, sounds very optimistic. “I believe, we’ll achieve our goal within several years,” he says.
However, some skeptics say that Mr. Hwang’s reputation as a scientist is not impeccable. Some time ago, he claimed that he had achieved some success in cloning a human. But later, Mr. Hwang had to confess that he had falsified the results of his work. But at the same time, nobody has ever questioned his success in cloning dogs, pigs and wolves. So, maybe, Mr. Hwan would really succeed in coning a mammoth.
This is Russia’s second joint project aimed at cloning a mammoth. The first one is being conducted in partnership with Japan. This year, a shinbone of a mammoth with well-preserved remains of bone marrow was found in Yakutia. It was decided to use this bone marrow for extracting genetic material for a mammoth clone.
Scientists hope that this clone will be born in about 5 years from now!!!!
Mysterious animal explosions at hog farms, baffle scientists!
Mysterious explosions on hog farms across the Midwest are killing hogs and perplexing scientists. The explosions seem to originate from the manure pits where an unexplained foam forms, trapping methane gas within "manure bubbles." Be warned, the photos are just as disturbing as whatever your mind has conjured up with the phrase "manure bubbles."