Give me a good dinosaur movie, caveman flick or prehistoric time travel show any day and I'm all in.  I loved the Jurassic Park series. But I have to ask - did we not learn of the dangers of messing with mother nature from those films?  Do we not think bringing back extinct species is a questionable proposition?  But somebody is really talking about it and raising serious money to do it too!

Wenas Mammoth

We do have a caveman era connection here in the Yakima Valley.  It's the Wenas Mammoth dig out past Selah.  The Yakima Herald-Republic wrote it up a few years back.  "While an elephant-like creature may seem wildly out of place in present-day Yakima, they were actually quite common in the region. The Columbian mammoth first appeared in North America 1 million years ago, and its territory would extend from Canada down to Central America."

They big furry fellows went extinct about 10,000 years ago but still managed to become the state's "official fossil" because finding mammoth remains isn't too uncommon. In fact, the bones and dig site found past Selah have been studied by Central Washington University (CWU) and is the subject of a traveling educational exhibit.

CWU On the Scene

"According to the CWU website, The Wenas Creek Mammoth Project is a Central Washington University (CWU) scientific investigation of mammoth bones found on private land in the Wenas Creek Valley near Selah, Washington. The investigation is interdisciplinary, using methods from paleontology, archaeology, and geography. The goal of the project is careful scientific recovery of the bones and any associated materials, while placing the finds into appropriate geological context."

For more information on the mammoth, visit www.wenasmammoth.com/index.html.

So while educators and scientists are taking their own sweet time in excavating and investigating the Wenas Mammoth, another group of scientists actually want to bring one back ala Jurassic Park!

Back From Extinction!

A new biosciences and genetics company, Colossal, has raised $15 million to bring back the woolly mammoth from extinction. This model mammoth is on display in France and the idea isn't to create an amusement park full of mammoths but to create enough of the beasts to release into the wild to help restore grasslands to the arctic tundra!

 The UK Guardian reports...."The scientists have set their initial sights on creating an elephant-mammoth hybrid by making embryos in the laboratory that carry mammoth DNA. The starting point for the project involves taking skin cells from Asian elephants, which are threatened with extinction, and reprogramming them into more versatile stem cells that carry mammoth DNA. The particular genes that are responsible for mammoth hair, insulating fat layers and other cold climate adaptions are identified by comparing mammoth genomes extracted from animals recovered from the permafrost with those from the related Asian elephants. These embryos would then be carried to term in a surrogate mother or potentially in an artificial womb. If all goes to plan – and the hurdles are far from trivial – the researchers hope to have their first set of calves in six years."

We'll keep our eyes on this going forward.  It's too weird of an idea not to!

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