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Scientists “revived” the genes of mammoths

About 11,000 years ago, the last mammoth populations have died out on our planet.

From the thousands of species, only those individuals survived that could survive in the harsh climate on Wrangel Island, but they also could not permanently save their tiny population from extinction. It is known that dwarf representatives of the largest mammals that lived off the coast of Siberia became extinct about 4000 years ago. At the moment, there are several basic hypotheses that can explain the death of ancient animals. In order to prove at least one of them, scientists were able to resurrect genes from recently found mammoth remains.

The growth of dwarf mammoths reached from 3 to 4 meters, which is commensurate with the modern Asian elephant

Why did mammoths die out?

The mystery about the reasons for the complete extinction of the huge mammals that have lived on our planet for many thousands of years is one of the most intriguing secrets of our planet. The most common version is the hypothesis of unexpected climate change, since mammoth extinction peak, according to some estimates, coincides with a period of sharp warming. It is assumed that this could be the reason for the reduced diet of animals, to which they did not have time to adapt. Due to the increased humidity and water logging of the soil on Wrangel Island, mammoths found it difficult to move in order to get their own food.

Another possible theory about the causes of the death of mammoths is the idea of ​​their loss of genetic diversity. So, due to the small habitat of mammoths (Wrangel Island could feed no more than 300 individuals), at some point cases of closely related crosses became more frequent, which led to the loss of animals’ ability to reproduce as a result of various kinds of genetic mutations.

Scientists “resurrected” mammoth genes in order to study the functioning of their genome

According to an article published in the journal Genome Biology and Evolution (GBE), experts have several reasons that indicate the appearance of several types of genetic defects in mammoths. In order to confirm this theory, scientists conducted a study for the “Resurrected” genome mammoth, suggesting that mammoths could lose their ability to reproduce, along with their ability to smell.

The results of this study can be evidence of both the first and second main hypotheses for the extinction of mammoths on Wrangel Island, since scientists are confident that due to the rapid decline in the population due to a decrease in the amount of food obtained, mammoths could interbreed with their distant relatives. This crossing significantly reduced their genetic diversity, as a result of which animals could lose the ability to “purify” the genome.

During the study, a team of scientists compared the mammoth’s DNA with living members of the elephant family, as well as with the oldest mammoths that lived tens of thousands of years ago on the territory of the African continent. During the experiment, experts identified a number of genetic abnormalities in animals from Wrangel Island, which were really responsible for the neurological development of animals, their fertility, insulin signaling, and their ability to smell. At the moment, scientists suggest that animals could completely lose their sense of smell and were unable to distinguish the smell of edible food from inedible. The combination of all negative factors affected the lifestyle of mammoths, causing their gradual, but inevitable extinction as a species. Be that as it may, scientists hope to resurrect these animals in the coming years.

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Planet Earth

How much snow has melted due to record high temperatures in Antarctica?

Antarctica has long been considered the coldest place on our planet, but now it cannot be called that. It is believed that the average annual temperature on a snowy continent should be approximately -57 degrees Celsius.

However, on February 6, 2020, the territory of Antarctica was in a fixed record high air temperature of 18.3 degrees Celsius. These data were provided by employees of the Esperanza research station, which is located in the far north of the Antarctic Peninsula. Warm weather lasted about a week and it provoked the melting of a fairly large amount of snow. The effects of record air temperatures are especially noticeable on Eagle Island, whose snow cover has melted greatly.

Melting ice in Antarctica can kill many species of animals

The consequences of warming in Antarctica were described in the scientific publication Sciencelert. Eagle Island is located near a part of the Antarctic Peninsula, referred to as Graham Land. At the end of 2019, the island was covered with snow and ice, but now, due to the sudden warming of the air, it looks like an ordinary patch of moist land with snowy patches. In addition, ponds formed from melted ice in its center, which cannot drain into the sea.

The effects of warming in Antarctica

The effects of an increase in air temperature in Antarctica are clearly visible in the images sent by the Landsat 8 satellite. They clearly show how, in just a dozen days, Eagle Island lost a huge part of the ice cover. It is reported that during this short period of time the island lost about 10 centimeters of snow and ice. According to glaciologist Mauri Pelto, who has been studying natural ice for many years, melting of ice and snow in such a speed has never been observed in Antarctica. At least, he had not yet encountered such phenomena.

As a rule, the ice of Greenland melts most and most noticeably. We were made sure about this fact  back in 2015, when a group of scientists led by Eric Rinho from the University of California came to this conclusion. Moreover, some scientists are confident that due to the gradual increase in the temperature of the Earth’s air, Greenland may soon completely lose its ice cover. This threatens that the level of the oceans will rise dramatically, which will harm both people and animals.

Eagle Island taken on Landsat 8 satellite

Glaciologist Mauri Pelto also emphasized that it was scary not that the ice on Eagle Island had melted so quickly, but that such events were happening more and more often. The previous temperature record in Antarctica was recorded on March 24, 2015, when the air warmed up to 17.5 degrees Celsius. In 2020, the air temperature was as much as 18.3 degrees Celsius. What surprises will be presented to us by nature in the future, no one knows. Perhaps we are waiting for new temperature records, and the melting of ice and snow on Eagle Island is just nothing compared to what is coming.

In general, scientists from the University of California at Davis believe that nothing good awaits people in the future. According to them, humanity will boil alive, like “frogs in boiling water.”

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Planet Earth

An engineer who believed in the theory of a flat earth died when his rocket was launched

Mike Hughes, nicknamed Mad Mike, a well-known amateur engineer flying on makeshift rockets, died during one of his experiments on Saturday in the United States, the Los Angeles Times reported citing his agent.

Mad Mike was remembered by the general public for his faith in the theory of a flat Earth. In 2018, he told the Associated Press that the Earth was “Frisbee-shaped” and that he intended to fly into space to make sure it was.

On Saturday, Hughes planned to climb five thousand feet on his makeshift desert rocket near the town of Barstow, California. The event was supposed to be shown in the special program “Home Astronauts”. 

The video of spectators who arrived to watch the launch captures the launch of his rocket, the parachute that did not work on time and the fatal fall of the amateur astronaut.

Mike’s agent suggested that Mike might have lost consciousness during the launch of the rocket and as a result did not activate the parachute. He fell 2600 feet from the place where the rocket was launched.

It is worth noting that Mike was going to launch his home-made steam rocket in August last year, but as a result, his plans were postponed.

For decades, Hughes has performed tricks from jumping in a limousine over long distances to flying on rockets made from improvised materials. In 2018, Mike’s rocket rose to a height of 1.9 thousand feet and then landed in the Mojave Desert.

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Planet Earth

How our planet appeared: an unexpected scenario of the origin of earth

© Photo: ZUMAPRESS.com, Globallookpress

Our planet could appear in a completely different scenario, which differs from previously proposed versions.

In the early stages of the existence of the solar system, the Earth took much less time to finally form. This is the conclusion made by researchers from the University of Copenhagen after analyzing iron isotopes found in meteorites. It is reported by Science Alert.

According to the results of a new study, the Earth has become a full-fledged planet in 5 million years – this is several times faster than previous models believed. An interesting fact remains that scientists are not yet completely sure how the formation of planets proceeds. As long as there is a general picture: a huge cloud of dust and gas revolves around the stars, which eventually turns into a flat disk, the elements of which become planets over time – therefore, objects in the solar system are approximately in the same plane around the sun.

Planets appear when the particles of cosmic dust and stones adhere – when they become larger, the force of gravity also grows, which helps to attract more and more objects. Ultimately, such interaction leads to the appearance of planets. It was believed that this requires several tens of millions of years, at least for the Earth.

In composition, the Earth differs from other objects in the solar system – it contains much less Fe-54, an isotope of iron. A similar composition is observed in carbonaceous chondrites.

If the Earth had formed over a longer period, its mantle would have contained more remnants of various meteorites, including those with a high Fe-54 content. Accordingly, the core of the planet should have appeared early enough due to rain from space dust. Scientists do not exclude that the rapid formation of planets, such as this, may be just one of the factors that determine the appearance of life on them.

“If the theory of early planetary accretion (the process of increasing the mass of a celestial body through the attraction of matter is really true, then water is most likely just a by-product of the formation of a planet similar to the Earth – this is more likely to find signs of life elsewhere in the universe,” cosmochemist Martin Bizzaro says.

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