Scientists in Australia, Canada and Denmark have resurrected woolly mammoth blood, determining that the huge beasts' circulatory systems acted as a sort of antifreeze.
The process uses DNA extracted from 43,000-year-old mammoth bones and then duplicated inside E. coli bacteria cells. It could easily be adapted to other extinct species, the researchers say, suggesting future medical labs full of dinosaur blood (if not full-fledged dinos).
For now, the team plans to study Australian marsupials like the extinct thylacine, a small tiger, and endangered Tasmanian Devil.
Studying extinct animals' proteins can yield surprising results that could never be obtained with only the fossil record, says Alan Cooper, director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, where the mammoth blood was sequenced.
The findings show how the mammoth's blood helped it survive extreme cold.
In any mammal, the blood's ability to carry oxygen is affected by temperatures -- hemoglobin is less effective at offloading oxygen into cells when it's cold. But the mammoths evolved special protein-sequence changes that allowed their blood to deliver oxygen to cells at very low temperatures, the researchers said. That would allow the mammoth's extremities to get very cold, saving energy. The changes were an evolutionary adaptation that allowed the mammoths, which originated in Africa, to survive in the Arctic.
They converted the blood DNA sequences into RNA, and inserted them into E. coli bacteria. The bacteria acted as RNA factories, manufacturing authentic mammoth protein.
The resulting hemoglobin molecules are no different than taking a blood sample from a real woolly mammoth, Cooper said.
The concept could conceivably be used for any extinct species, as long as scientists have DNA samples.
"(This) opens the way to being able to study all sorts of proteins from the past, and to study many physiological characteristics," Cooper said. "It's really paleobiology; you're studying how extinct species function, and how they adapted to climate change and other past environmental conditions that we can't get at in the fossil record."
Why don't we just clone the damn things? Then we can have all the protein we need.
So with this we will never be low on human blood again right? we can just produce as much as we need?
im sure the twilight vampires will be thrilled
im sure the twilight vampires will be thrilled
Why not use this process for human blood for our blood banks
*que Jurassic Park theme music*
I hope Jurassic Park has taught us a very valuable lesson about recreating extinct species.
Their extinction may have been unfortunate, but is part of the reason why other smaller forms of life are around today.
Their resurrection can easily come at the cost of another species' extinction...
Ummmm you do know that Jurassic Park was just a movie right? Not real at all...
Agreed - we need to be cloning these things now! The NY Times printed an article that said a Woolly Mammoth could be cloned for about $10 million. Here's the URL: www.nytimes.com/2008/11/20/science/20mammoth.html
Think about what it cost to make the movie "Jurassic Park" - $10 million is pocket change in comparison. They could make a documentary-style movie about the project, and then they could sell tickets to see the live mammoth after it's born.
I'm not rich, but I'd pay $50 right now to see a real live mammoth. Whomever was the first to do this could surely make back their investment within the first six months.
We should revive them and produce them by the hundreds. Then we can poach them for their longer tusks and hides. People will pay in the thousands for woolly mammoth den rugs.
We will make back our investments within the first 6 months.
the wording in this article is a bit misleading. they didn't make actual blood, just the mammoth hemoglobin protein. so no, the process couldn't be used to make human blood for blood banks.
I don't think people realize what bringing back the mammoth would mean.
First, which mammoth? There have been many species of mammoth to walk the earth, some very large, some dwarf.
Two, you would need at least two. Male and female, to perpetuate the species.
Three, two isn't enough either. That kind of line breeding is how you create mutations, and the goal would seem to be a true mammoth, not a mutated mammoth (as we already have elephants). Two males and three to five females would be a reasonable number (so we are up to 70 million, at least, and the need for that many unique samples from the same species and of the right gender).
Four, you would have to raise and breed them with no prior knowledge of disease, temprament, mating ritual, etc. They would also all be universally sickly, as all first generation clones are (though their offspring would be as hardy as normal).
Five, great, now what are you going to do with your ridiculously exspensive mammoth herd? Release them to be poached - or to destroy homes and farms? Release them to become extinct again for whatever reason wiped them out before? Keep them in a perpetual preserve at unknown cost?
Six, even then, do you really have true mammoths? You would not have true elephants if you followed this process - too much of what they do is learned traits, not heredity - so likely your genetic mammoths would not act like true mammoth did.
Seven - what of the other 100,000 species of animals worth of salvation? Will you turn the world into one large zoo, where every species is propigated from capitive, genetically preserved species? Doesn't thins give carte blanch to the person who shoot an Amur or Snow Leopard - after all, they can always be brought back.
If the protein is compatible with human blood would it be useful for medical use? Lowered body temperature should make some surgeries easier, wouldn't it?
If ever there was a candidate for "bringing back" it would be the Passenger Pigeon"--there a lots of samples, and plenty of very close relatives--one could sequence the Passenger Pigeon and the American Pigeon--noting the differences, and correcting American Pigeon DNA to match the Passenger Pigeon--and proceeding from that point.