The permafrost of Siberia offers a glimpse in to the past as ice entombed animals, plants, and other organisms are discovered, often amazingly intact.
In 2012, a scientist reported coaxing a previously frozen seed thousands of years frozen, into producing a flower.
The New York Times of February 3, 2014 reported the recent discovery by two French scientists, of a previously unknown virus buried in the permafrost of Siberia. The virus, revived in the laboratory, seems to only affect amoebas.
In answer to questions concerning the safety of the virus and any possible threat to humans, the researchers report having performed three sets of test that verify the virus is only dangerous to amoebas.
The researchers do admit that it is possible that viruses dangerous to human could be discovered. However, the report states that after decades of discoveries, none have been dangerous to humans thus far.
Interestingly, there have been other significant discoveries made in the permafrost of Siberia. Due to the discoveries of well preserved wooly mammoths’, an experimental nature preserve called Pleistocene Park in Siberia; hopes to one day bring back the mammoth to restore the steppes of Siberia.
Researchers, aided by the genomic technologies of molecular biologist, George Church, are involved in a process called” de-extinction” whereby they hope to” recreate “ previously extinct species of animals, one of which being the great wooly mammoth.
A California company called Revive and Restore is seeking to resurrect lost species, particularly at this time, the Passenger pigeon which became extinct in 1914. The company began the process of sequencing the DNA in 2001
Other such projects include the Uruz Project which is breeding cattle in hopes of creating a subspecies that resemble the extinct Aurochs, a form of wild ox that disappeared in 1627 and the Lazarus project that is attempting the regeneration of the Australian Frog which disappeared 30 years ago.
Revive and Restore is a collaboration of geneticists, molecular biologists, synthetic biologists, and conservation biologists who see this process of de-extinction as inevitable but says “We want to make it happen responsibly.”
The process, in species that have died off prior to cryopreservation, requires the following steps.
First, the genome must be reconstructed using the genome of a closely related species. Admittedly, the scientists recognize the genome will contain errors much as a translation of a book may contain errors in spelling, grammar, etc.
Next, the genome will have to be inscribed in to a living cell. Biologist would then need to “tinker” with the cell in a method they call “cut and paste”, replacing sections that are missing from the original with sections from the closest living relative.
A new technology, invented by Dr. George Church, called MAGE an acronym for Multiplex Automated Genome Engineering which introduces thousands of years of genetic mutations within minutes, is speeding up the process.
Then the “new cell” is introduced into the embryo of the closest relative. When the embryo hatches, it will carry the sperm or egg, containing the DNA of the engineered species. This is the chimera, an animal which carries the DNA of another, albeit, and a close relative.
The “chimera’ must then be mated with another chimera to reproduce the “new” animal.
Following this process, developmental and behavioral biologist would be charged with the task of training the engineered to behave as the species it is replacing. Exactly how that happens is complicated and will require much learning and effort on the part of scientists involved in the project.
As scientists generate new bacteria, modify genetic codes, and clone dogs, cats, wolves, and water buffalos, as well as many food plants, according to Dr. Church,” The world is about to become a lot less natural.”
A quote form Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog speaks of the mentality of some scientist involved in this process,” We are as gods and we might as well get good at it.”
The Genesis account in the Bible reveals that God created all things according to their kind. (Genesis 1:20-25) Following this, God pronounces his Divine approval by saying that it was “good”. After the creation of man and the completion of His creative work, He stated that it was “very good.”
When Satan tempted Eve, he offered her the possibility of being like God,” for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof … ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5 KJV) It seems that the temptation to be as ‘gods’ still exists today.
Only God, the Creator, understands the complexity of the genome and what the repercussions could be for mankind if this scientific “tinkering “continues.”