Ice Age: the Sequel
A HERD of bison is to be flown from western Canada to far-eastern Russia next month, more than 5000 years after they died out in the region. The first 30 animals from Elk Island National Park in Alberta will take a 15-hour flight on a cargo plane to the republic of Yakutia, 8000 km east of Moscow, as part of a plan to establish an ice age wildlife park.Joining the bison in "Pleistocene Park" are relocated muskoxen and other species "that lived here thousands of years ago," says Nikita Zimov, son of a local scientist who is behind the scheme.
Most intriguing is the plan to resurrect everyone's favorite extinct megafauna. Maybe you've heard about this idea:
The ultimate goal is to reintroduce the woolly mammoth, which died out in the region about 13,000 years ago. Scientists estimate the carcasses of as many as 10 million mammoths are buried in the permafrost that covers huge swaths of far-eastern Russia.Says Nikita Zimov, "Of course, it is all a little bit fantastic but, if it succeeds, we will reintroduce mammoths."
A Japanese team hopes to clone one of the extinct giant beasts by harvesting DNA from the frozen legs or sperm of a mammoth found by a hunter in Yakutia in 1994. If they are able to extract sperm, they plan to impregnate an Indian elephant and then repeat the process with the next two generations to produce an 88 per cent pure mammoth within 50 years.
By the way, anyone worried about whether the bison can handle all those air miles can rest assured. Their crates will be lined with non-slip rubber.