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Jurassic Park’s Dino Clones From Amber-Encased Insects Will Forever Remain Fiction

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bug in amber

It’s not often that the “Could this happen?” question in science is answered with a no. This looks like one of those times. The sad news? It doesn’t seem as though we’ll be able to clone dinos from DNA like they did in Jurassic Park. That’s right, Hollywood lied to us. Feeling betrayed? Me too. Just a little.

Scientists from the University of Manchester tried, but were ultimately unsuccessful at extracting DNA from insects trapped in amber for over 10,000 years. In fact, they even went so far as to say that it’s probably impossible to extract usable DNA from dinosaur-aged samples. Let’s all take a moment to be collectively disappointed.

The scientists were working with bees in copal, which is hardened tree resin that forms before amber. The samples they used were between 60 and 10,600 years old, and while they were able to extract some nucleotides (which form the building blocks of DNA) in the younger specimens, they didn’t find a trace of ancient DNA. They also weren’t able to match the nucleotide sequences to the modern equivalent of the bees.

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Imagine A World Full Of John Lennon Clones

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cloning LennonIn their heyday, the Beatles may have been, as John Lennon famously put it, “more popular than Jesus.” Now, a dentist wants to put that comparison to the test in a different way—he wants to clone John Lennon, with the eventual hope of bringing him back.

Back in the 1960s, Lennon, aware of his god-like status, had a rotten molar pulled and gave it to his housekeeper to give to her daughter. While I’m tempted to make jokes about what a shitty gift that was—I mean, how about an autograph? A back-stage pass? A roach?—this gift fetched $31,000 when it was auctioned to Michael Zuk, a Canadian dentist, back in 2011. You knew that guy would be Canadian, didn’t you? Unfortunately, the housekeeper didn’t get to keep the cash—she had already given the tooth to Alan McGee, former boss of Creation Records.

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Cloned Horses Allowed To Race And Zombie Worms Found In Antarctic

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horse
The animal kingdom is capturing all kinds of headlines this week, what with newly discovered carnivorous mammals making cloud forests all the more frighteningly cuddlesome. But those guys aren’t quite as disturbing as the zombiezombie worms terrorizing the Antarctic floor. More on them later, because we’re going to talk about how cloned horses can legally race now. (It’d be really nice if someone could figure out a way to make the above paragraph translate into one of Nostradamus’ quatrains.)

Since 2007, a small number of members from the American Quarter Horse Association, one of the largest horse breeding groups in the country, have been trying to get a rule change on allowing horses or relatives of horses created by cloning to be allowed registration into the group. This week, U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson ordered the AQHA to change its policies, allowing the cloned horses into the mighty ranks of their non-genetically-altered money-making brethren. While the MLB is up to its metaphorical eyeballs in athletes getting popped for performance-enhancing drugs, horse racing will soon see science-based creations get the red carpet laid out for them. Obviously those two instances aren’t directly related, but it strikes an odd chord. Can you imagine once people get into the genetic modification game?

The decision doesn’t come without some backlash, of course. The privately-run AQHA, home to 280,000 members and over 750,000 animals, are appealing the ruling, claiming their rules are lawful and that cloned horses do nothing to improve the bloodline of the breed and could potentially narrow the gene pool down, causing worse genetic diseases to occur. Robinson will likely sign the documents later this week, and it’ll be another 30 days before it will go into effect. So the AQHA better hope that appeal goes through almost immediately.

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Woolly Mammoth Carcass Embarks On Asian Tour

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Some of you may think that being alive is a prerequisite for going on tour, but not so for a 39,000-year-old woolly mammoth calf. The calf, retrieved from the Siberian permafrost in 2010, made its first media appearance last week, and will be on display to the public in Yokohama, Japan until September 16. Yuka (named after Russian’s Sakha Republic, Yakutia) is a 3-meter-tall female who was 10 years old when she died. The frigid conditions kept the carcass in near-perfect condition, and scientists have been studying her in Russia for the past few years.

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Cheesus! Mouse Cloned From Single Drop Of Blood

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cloned mouseI’m going to set up a line of chairs around the room, just in case anyone feels the need to squeal and jump on top of one of them once this story starts. Wearing long flowing dresses and carrying a broom are both optional.

While it’s known that mice can be cloned from many different donor cell sources, including bone marrow, lymph nodes and the liver, researchers at the Riken BioResource Center in Tsukuba, Japan investigated whether or not circulating blood cells could possibly serve the same purpose. Their goal was to find a source of donor cells that was easily available and didn’t end with the donor animal needing to be euthanised. Cloning valuable lab mice works a lot better when you don’t have to off the mouse whose initial value guided the experiment. And amazingly, the cloning was a success! (Squeal!)

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Russian Scientists Discover The Most Well-Preserved Mammoth Carcass Ever

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mammothWhen we talk about ways that humans are destroying the world, our involvement in global warming often comes up. We’ve got to curb our vehicular exhaust. We have to stop the cows from burping so much. We have to stop relying on fossil fuels. Let’s for a second think not about how to prevent global warming, but how to end the oncoming apocalypse once it gets here, before one of those statements becomes, “We’ve got to stop cloning all these mammoths.”

A team of Russian scientists led an expedition through recently thawed grounds in remote areas of northern Russia and found the most well-preserved mammoth carcass ever discovered. (It had blood in it!) Half-buried in ice for 10,000 to 15,000 years, the carcass is believed to have been around 60 years of age when it died, and it’s the first time an old female mammoth has been found. Lots of guys around and no women? Sounds like as good a cause for extinction as any, as well as sounding like a boring prehistoric weekend. (Yes, I know that’s not why they went extinct.)

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