background preloader

Resurrecting the Extinct Frog with a Stomach for a Womb

Resurrecting the Extinct Frog with a Stomach for a Womb
Two years ago, Mike Archer from the University of New South Wales looked down a microscope and saw that a single fertilised frog egg had divided in two. Then, it did it again. And again. Eventually, the egg produced an embryo containing hundreds of cells. “There were a lot of hi-fives going around the laboratory,” says Archer. This might seem like an over-reaction. The fact that it started to grow into an embryo was a big deal. Archer’s goal is simple: To bring the extinct gastric brooding frog back from oblivion and, in doing so, provide hope for the hundreds of other frogs that are heading that way. Frozen southern gastric brooding frog. Stomach for a womb The southern gastric brooding frog (Rheobatrachus silus) was discovered in 1972 in the mountains of Queensland, Australia. Simply put, the mother frog converts her stomachs into a womb. When news broke about this weird strategy, other scientists were incredulous. They didn’t have long. Then, good news! Cloning Lazarus Is it worth it? Related:  De-ExtinctionBiotechScience

Russian scientists revive an ice age flower A plant that was frozen in Siberian permafrost for about 30,000 years has been revived by a team of Russian scientists — and borne fruit, to boot. Using tissue from immature fruits buried in fossil squirrel burrows some 90 feet below the surface, researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences in Pushchino managed to coax the frozen remains of a Silene stenophylla specimen into full flower, producing delicate white blooms and then fruit. The findings, published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, describe what is a record for reviving presumably dead plant tissue — and may provide clues as to what makes some plants hardier and longer-lived than others. "I'm absolutely thrilled with the result," said Grant Zazula, a paleontologist with the Yukon government in Canada who reviewed the study for the journal. "I've always been excited for the potential of something like this being successful."

Genes without templates Many genes are completely new inventions and not just modified copies of old genes March 25, 2013 It is easier to copy something than to develop something new - a principle that was long believed to also apply to the evolution of genes. When scientists decoded the first genes, they made a surprising discovery: similar variants of many genes are found even in very different organisms. Rafik Neme and Diethard Tautz from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology have now refuted this idea. The researchers also studied another way in which new genes can arise from existing genes: through a change in the reading frame. According to the findings of the Plön-based researchers, around 60 percent of genes originate from our unicellular ancestors from the early phase of evolution. New genes thus frequently arise from scratch in the course of evolution.

Mouth-Birthing Frog to Be Resurrected? Photograph from ANT Photo Library/Science Source In this file photo, a tiny froglet can be seen in the mouth of its mother, the southern gastric-brooding frog Rheobatrachus silus. (Related: "Resurrecting the Extinct Frog with a Stomach for a Womb.") In this novel form of parental care, the female swallowed her fertilized eggs. Two species of gastric-brooding frogs made their homes in creeks in a relatively small area of tropical forest in Queensland, Australia: R. silus and the northern gastric-brooding frog, R.vitellinus. The species were discovered in 1973 and 1984, respectively, but by the mid-1980s they had both disappeared, possibly due to habitat degradation, pollution, and disease, including chytrid fungus. A few specimens of gastric-brooding frogs are preserved in Australian museums, leading scientists to ponder whether the animals could be reborn. Archer was speaking at Friday's TEDx Conference on DeExtinction at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Candidate species | Revive & Restore Criteria are emerging for determining which animal species are possible candidates for genetic rescue or genetic assistance. The animals pictured below may meet some or all of these criteria. All images are from Wikipedia and are in the public domain. Candidate Species for De-extinction: Cuban red macaw Ivory billed woodpecker Imperial woodpecker Heath hens Labrador duck Dodo Great Auk New Zealand giant moa Madagascar elephant bird Huia (New Zealand) O’o (Hawaii) Woolly mammoth Woolly rhinoceros Irish elk Easter Island palm Xerces blue butterfly Quagga (plains zebra) Auroch Pyrenean ibex (bucardo) Thylacine (Tasmanian tiger) Steller’s sea cow Caribbean monk seal Candidate Species for Genetic Assistance: Hawaiian Crow Attwater’s Prairie Chicken Hawaiian honeycreeper Crested Ibis New Zealand Kakapo Black-footed ferret Amphibians Bats Golden Lion Tamarin Cheetah Northern White Rhino Hirola Javan rhinoceros Sumatran rhinoceros Yangtze giant softshell turtle Arabian Oryx Wombat Tasmanian devil  Top of Page

How to Build an Artificial Womb The societal effects could be interesting. I could definitely see these being used a lot by women who want biological children, but either don't want pregnancy (because of work, maybe a few vanity cases as well) or would suffer too many health problems in a pregnancy. It could definitely be a godsend to folks who are all excited for their upcoming baby, but then find out that continuing the pregnancy or going to labor would kill the mother. And there are a lot of women and couples who want kids, but said woman is somewhat reluctant because a pregnancy would require a lot of personal sacrifice for her. I've thought about the abortion thing in terms of an artificial womb. HOWEVER, if abortion becomes illegal as a result of artificial wombs, there would be other side effects to deal with.

Math as Myth - Preview Issue: The Story of Nautilus Out of all of the infinite numbers in the world, there are precious few that are given their own letter from the all-too-finite Greek alphabet. The golden ratio, also known by the letter φ, or phi (usually pronounced “fie” in English), is one of those few. An irrational number that begins 1.618…, it describes an important kind of geometrical proportion—specifically, an elegant way to divide a line segment. Imagine we divide a segment (a) into a longer part (b) and a shorter part (c). If the ratio of a to b is the same as b to c, then that single ratio is golden. So, like fractals, the golden ratio unites different areas of mathematics together. Phi has also had an interesting role in aesthetics. For all of the appearances of the golden ratio, there many be even more erroneous sightings of it. Scientists in the early modern era proved not only the power of math but also of simplicity. But simple, beautiful mathematical explanations can make us greedy. In a way, this is frustrating.

DNA has a 521-year half-life M. Møhl Palaeogeneticist Morten Allentoft used the bones of extinct moa birds to calculate the half-life of DNA. Few researchers have given credence to claims that samples of dinosaur DNA have survived to the present day, but no one knew just how long it would take for genetic material to fall apart. After cell death, enzymes start to break down the bonds between the nucleotides that form the backbone of DNA, and micro-organisms speed the decay. Determining that rate has been difficult because it is rare to find large sets of DNA-containing fossils with which to make meaningful comparisons. But palaeogeneticists led by Morten Allentoft at the University of Copenhagen and Michael Bunce at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, examined 158 DNA-containing leg bones belonging to three species of extinct giant birds called moa. By comparing the specimens' ages and degrees of DNA degradation, the researchers calculated that DNA has a half-life of 521 years.

No Hope For Jurassic Park? Scientists Say DNA Is Too Fragile A new study that estimates the rate of DNA degradation in fossils casts serious doubt on our chances of ever having a real life Jurassic Park. The researchers looked at DNA extracted from the bones of an extinct bird between 600 and 8,000 years old and calculated the rate at which the fossilized DNA degraded. They concluded that, even under the best conditions, a DNA molecule wouldn’t survive past 7 million years, making us just shy of 60 million years too late in resurrecting T. Rex. Previous reports of dinosaur DNA lasting tens of million of years have been met with skepticism. Many of these samples were found to contain more recent DNA mixed in with the life blueprints of long extinct species. The team used 158 leg bones belonging to three different species of moa, giant birds native to New Zealand who were driven to extinction around 1,400 AD from over hunting. Morten Alentoft from the University of Copenhagen, extracting samples from the extinct bird, moa.

Abrupt rise of new machine ecology beyond human response time : Scientific Reports Inspired by Farmer and Skouras' ecological perspective6, we analyze our findings in terms of a competitive population of adaptive trading agents. The model is summarized schematically in Fig. 1 of the SI while Refs. 31, 40 and 41 provide full details and derivations of the quoted results below. Each agent possesses several (s > 1) strategies, but only trades at a given timestep if it has a strategy that has performed sufficiently well in the recent past. The common information fed back to the agents at each timestep is a bit-string encoding the m most recent price movements31, 32, 33, 34, 35. corresponding to the ratio of the number of different strategies (i.e. strategy pool size which is 2m + 1 in our model31, 33) to the number of active agents N. (A) Timescales from Fig. 3A. ).η < 1 implies more agents than strategies, hence frequent, large and abrupt price-changes as observed empirically for timescales < 1 s. η > 1 implies less agents than strategies, hence large changes are rare.

The Promise and Pitfalls of Resurrection Ecology Every species becomes extinct eventually. Some leave descendants that continue the evolutionary proliferation of life that kicked off on this planet over 3.5 billion years ago, but no parent species is immortal. Life on Earth is in continual flux, with new lineages emerging as others die back. But what if we could resurrect lost species? And even if we developed the technology to do so, are such efforts wise during a time when the same attention and energy could be applied to preventing extant species from slipping away? The woolly mammoth – the shaggy Ice Age icon that persisted until a scant 3,700 years ago – is probably the most charismatic “deextinction” candidate. These candidate species, the “Revive & Restore” project says, were selected according to three sets of criteria. Just as the woolly mammoth symbolizes the great hope of species revival, the proboscidean also highlights the lack of attention ecology receives in such proposals. I’m not totally against deextinction efforts.

Scientists observe your body's own self-assembling nanomachines in action Thanks for linking that, utterly amazing. Isn't it though? What I think is amazing about that simulation is that the machine the transcribes a gene to a length of RNA is able to only accept the molecules that make RNA and it filters and discards all the extraneous molecules in the broth it's traveling through. Very, very quickly. That's a very effective part sorting mechanism flying though the chemical equivalent of cloudy, turbid storm of hurtling molecules of all kinds. It's the inevitability of it all that really blows my mind. This is interesting, because we usually think of entropy as the great destroyer, but clearly that is not always the case. "This is interesting, because we usually think of entropy as the great destroyer, but clearly that is not always the case." In a open system, which the Earth is as long as the Sun shines on it and it's core remains molten and active, entropy doesn't win and lots of interesting things happen.