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    Baby Got Back: Sexy Mammoths
    By Heidi Henderson | April 28th 2009 05:00 PM | 21 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Heidi

    Blue Planet, Explorer in Residence. Co-author of In Search of Ancient BC.

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    How about a dating service where your male partners are chosen for their fitness from the Siberian permafrost?  Creating long extinct life through harvested genetic remains is closer than you think. After successful experiments at the Institute for Reproductive Studies in Scottsdale, Arizona, with frozen mice sperm, scientists are now experimenting with sperm from mammoths preserved in Siberian ice. 

    We may one day have wooly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius), extinct since the Pleistocene, roaming around zoos and colder climes. At least it looks that way.  Because of their massive size and icy cold environment, many mammoths have been preserved as frozen carcasses instead of being turned to stone, thus they are prime candidates for genetic reproduction. We really can bring them back. When originally touted in the news as a possibility, most audiences took the science to be too  farfetched.

    Researchers harvesting DNA and deciphering their genome feel they are on the edge of doing just that.
    Science as we know it is sliding down the double helix to science fiction. DNA, long bits of genetic code that form the roadmap of how we are built, is relatively easy to harvest and remarkably hardy. Even with the abuse of time, small amounts can be extracted and with that the genetic wizards are able to put the puzzle pieces back together.  Frozen sperm is used in fertility clinics around the globe, the difference here is that the entire mammal is frozen before harvesting the sperm. Once harvested, the frozen sperm from long extinct male mammoths is injected into eggs from females of closely related species. While positive results have been made and papers  published (see the National Academy of Sciences) a baby mammoth has yet to be conceived. 

    One-of-a-kind stuffed mammoth in The Museum of Zoology, St. Petersburg, found in the banks of the Berezovka River

    A return debut? Yes, it seems it is true. Geneticists have mastered the craft, mapping out the genetic code on species ranging from mice to men.

    So, start planning their "Welcome back" parties. Wooly's time has arrived!

     

    Comments

    Hank
    Can Science Bring Back the Wooly Mammoth? Sounds farfetched, but researchers harvesting DNA and deciphering the genome of the Wooly Mammoth feel they are on the edge of doing just that.

    But can they bring back Rita Hayworth? Because this is some science worth thinking about.

    Fossil Huntress
    NBC Released a news statement early this morning... they've been able to produce a clone of Rita... course it will be about 20 years until she's truly in her prime...
    Hank
    That's a long time. I am not sure where culturally we go from 'older man with trophy younger woman' to 'just plain creepy' but I think 60 years may be it.

    I could ask the wife but I bet I won't like her response to the whole concept.

    dorigo
    At the risk of sounding a maschilist pig, I'd suggest the Master Formula for optimal coupling between males and females:

    Age_female = Age_male/2 + 7 years

    Or the inverse: Age_male = 2 * Age_female -14 years

    Here's some examples:

    F17/M20 makes a lot of sense -boys are less mature than girls;
    F22/M30 also does pretty well;
    F27/M40 is quite ok;
    F32/M50 works well for most couples;
    F37/M60 starts breaking down;
    F42/M70 is rather awkward - but the whole idea of aging is;
    F47/M80 is indeed creepy.

    I'd say the formula works well for men in the age range 16-60...

    Cheers,
    T.
    Fossil Huntress
    One day we may be able to do some sort of hybrid cloning and bring back the wooly mammoth combined Rita Hayworth. She'd be a looker but probably smell a bit off. 
    Zeea
    That's genetic engineering, NOT playing God. You may clone or do genetic manipulation in an exsisting specie/s but you can not entirely create a new genotype as the God does  :)
    Fossil Huntress
    I much prefer my model of optimal coupling, which is a revision of the Master Formula:

    Age_male = Age_female/5 + 12 years

    It has worked well for me, although I've become more flexible the past few years.

    H2

    Hank
    That doesn't seem to make sense.  It means a 30 year old woman has to be 18?   Or am I doing it wrong?

    Male 43 = Female 30/5 + 12, which is 18.   I have kids older than that.
    Gerhard Adam

    It's the division by 5 that's the killer in that formula ...

    Male age = (Female age) / 5 + 12

    If the male is 43 then the equation is rearranged as:

    (Male age - 12) * 5  ===>  (43 - 12) * 5 = 31 * 5 = 155 year old female  (a little outside the scope I would think)

    Mundus vult decipi
    Fossil Huntress
    Right you are. Perhaps a division by 2 with a nominal + value to appeal to social norms
    jtwitten
    Yes, but you are thinking in a male-centric way.  In the equation Heidi set up, the age of the female is the independent variable and the age of the male is the dependent variable.  Since 155 year old women are, hopefully, not looking to do any coupling, optimal or otherwise, it does not really matter that it winds up ridiculous at the extremes.
    Gerhard Adam

    So basically there's no male 30+ years allowed ....

    Mundus vult decipi
    Fossil Huntress
    Gerhard, that would be so limiting. The Master Formula allows for 30+ but they need to add more than the sum of their parts to the equation ; )
    Gerhard Adam
    Aaahhhh ... I presume you're referring to the proverbial "hidden variables". 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Fossil Huntress
    Clearly a mathematical error. Perhaps something closer to:
      
    F22/M30 also does pretty well;
    F27/M40 is quite ok;

    If we exchange the positioning of F and M ; )
    dorigo
    Heidi, I wish I had found more girls like you when I was 22!

    Cheers,
    T.
    Hank
    Are you not an Italian man?   I am not a betting guy but, if I were, I would bet the women you found at 22 would form a line so long it could have been seen from space.
    dorigo
    Lol Hank, I was still a virgin at 22 :)  I grew good at flirting when it became basically useless.

    Cheers,
    T.
    Fossil Huntress
    Tommaso, e voi anche. La bellezza ed i cervelli sono sexy a tutta l'età (in modo da siete buono là) ma l'italiano e 22 lo avrebbero reso irresistibile.

    Hank, can we have a 2.0 meeting in Florence to test out a hypothesis?

    H2
    Hank
    Sure, it's for science!!    I need a new Firenza football shirt anyway, though I guess it shows my age if I don't call them Fiorentina.
    dorigo
    :) Heidi, if I ever was irresistible at 22, I must have had some force field screening me from adoring girls.

    Let's meet in Florence or in London or wherever. The world is small and beautiful, there's more than monuments around.

    Cheers,
    T.