Science magazine brings us a step closer to a Pleistocene Park by reporting on the creation of living mammoth blood:
By inserting a 43,000-year-old woolly mammoth gene into Escherichia coli bacteria, scientists have figured out how these ancient beasts adapted to the subzero temperatures of prehistoric Siberia and North America. The gene, which codes for the oxygen-transporting protein hemoglobin, allowed the animals to keep their tissues supplied with oxygen even at very low temperatures. “It’s no different from going back 40,000 years and taking a blood sample from a living mammoth,” says Kevin Campbell, a biologist at the University of Manitoba in Canada.
he elephant hemoglobin functioned much like human hemoglobin, delivering oxygen more efficiently at warmer temperatures. That helps the hemoglobin transport oxygen to the hardest-working muscles. But the mammoth hemoglobin released oxygen at a steady rate regardless of the temperature, the team reports online today in Nature Genetics.
One big, hairy step closer to re-establishing the noble herds… in my dreams, at least.