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Recreating our prehistoric past

Published February 25. 2012 09:01AM

Could dinosaurs roam the world once more? Perhaps, but we are more likely to see a woolly mammoth if Russian scientists have their way. A story circulating the Internet this week discussed the successful resurrection of a long dead species of flower which was grown from fruit and seeds found in a squirrel's burrow which was frozen in permafrost in Siberia for the last 30,000 years. Supposedly once the seeds were thawed they were still viable resulting in the growth of this whitish flower.

The possibility of resurrecting plants from the Jurassic period is both exciting and yet a bit disconcerting. What lived in the annals of fiction author Michael Crichton's popular novel "Jurassic Park" may not be exciting as this accomplishment was and believed it is a first step to being able to recreate other plants and creatures from this long dead period of Earth's history.

Apparently all they need is viable tissue and with our knowledge of genetics, they can leverage that tissue into creating a full-fledged animal. On one hand I find that quite exciting. For the first time we may be able to conceivably resurrect long dead species on our planet. On the other hand I find it terrifying that we can resurrect a long dead species on our planet.

Charles Darwin's study of evolution and natural selection leads one to logically conclude that the species currently on our planet are there because nature found them most viable in the long term history of the planet. We are not necessarily here randomly from the strict scientific point of view, but we are here because our species was the most equipped to handle the challenges posed by the world around us. This also dictates that species which do not exist today may not exist for a good reason. Perhaps the climate is much different, or their food sources died out causing attrition of species.

Obviously there is some reason why many of these animals and plants became extinct, and to short circuit nature by resurrecting a dead species based on what we think we know is a huge gamble. Currently, scientists have a long term goal of locating viable tissue and resurrecting a woolly mammoth from extinction. While that will be amazing if they can find viable tissue and succeed in recreating the large mammal, the ramifications could be far reaching.

None of us have ever seen one of these animals, so our only understanding of them is what we have already theorized based on studying a possible descendant, the elephant. Based on that, we may think we know what this extinct mammal might be like, but there is no way to know for sure. It might not be an issue, but then again such a creation could wreak havoc on an eco-system. While the mammoth might be controllable imagine what could happen if a scientist inadvertently is able to hatch a prehistoric insect by accident. Without the checks and balances from its prehistoric past, such an insect could destroy our world.

Hopefully scientists are weighing the odds of this type of Frankenstein-like experimentation and consider carefully the ramifications of travelling down this biological path or it could cause major damage to the natural world of our planet. If they do proceed cautiously such an accomplishment could be one of the greatest in the history of all humanity. It will be interesting to see what happens in the future.

Speaking of woolly mammoths, another search of the Internet apparently uncovered video of an already living creature in Siberia. Unfortunately, this video was quickly proven to be fraudulent when it was learned that a video shot by another cinematographer was used as the background for the fuzzy image which the original hoaxster attempted to pass off as the amazing animal.

Much like most Bigfoot photos and videos that periodically surface this image was neither clear nor coherent as to being a mammoth. Before the real footage was discovered, the image could have just as easily been a bear instead of a mammoth. It was blurred enough to look like a large mammal without being focused enough to tell for sure.

Why people continue to believe they can pass of such awful photography as "proof" of a real creature is beyond me. One can purchase a twenty dollar digital camera and get sharper photographs from 30 feet of a moving object without a blurry image, so it seems really hard to understand why these so-called photographers consistently fail to shoot just one clear image of a Bigfoot, or mammoth or any other creature. It really doesn't seem like that hard of a shot. After all, most cameras are built with the technology to shoot a clear picture whether someone is shaking or moving.

As I discussed in previous columns, the odds are that there could be some species of creature whether it is intelligent or not that could be the mythical Bigfoot. If there is, it would definitely be in good company. I just hope that if someone really truly does meet this creature, then they would have a good camera with a good empty digital card waiting to take that million dollar clear image of Sasquatch that would answer the question once and for all.

However I would not hang waiting for this. You can see photos and videos and more information about these stories and others with the research I did for this column at

Til next time…

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