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Yakutia's Academy of Sciences plans to open new laboratories for mammoth studies

The new laboratories would require space and equipment, and practically all modern laboratories that work with the Paleogene Period, deal with modern animals

YAKUTSK, February 13. /TASS/. Yakutia's Academy of Sciences will open new laboratories for mammoth studies, which will make a base for the World Mammoth Center, the Academy's head of the Mammoth Fauna Department, Doctor of Biology Albert Protopopov told TASS.

"The work on the World Mammoth Center requires a step-by-step approach and planning. We plan to open laboratories under the Mammoth Fauna Department - palynology (spore-pollen analysis), paleocarpology, anatomical laboratory, 3D imaging, tomographic scanning, and monitoring of natural and man-made processes in the Arctic," the scientist said.

The new laboratories would require space and equipment. "Our storages are physically outdated. We need climate-controlled space of 800-1,000 square meters to store paleontological material," he added.

The first to be opened, he continued, should be a "clean room" with a PCR laboratory: "There is such a thing as a "clean room" with no extraneous DNAs, bacteria, so that not to allow genetic contamination. Sterile boxes are to be organized inside the room."

Practically all modern laboratories that work with the Paleogene Period, deal with modern animals, he said. "And this leads to contamination [of the equipment]. If the material to study is only mammoths, then there is no problem. And if the materials to study are an ancient wolf, an ancient bear, which are represented in the modern animal world, then what representation can we expect?"

The importance of own laboratories is partly due to the Western sanctions. "Not all of our finds are dated, because we had to change partners - we are being boycotted by laboratories in Europe and Japan, where earlier ancient finds were dated. We need to replace those services. Right now, we are conducting such tests in Novosibirsk," he added.

Training specialists

By the time the center opens, it is necessary to have a pool of specialists trained on the basis of these laboratories, he continued. "We have started training specialists together with the North-Eastern Federal University. By the time the World Mammoth Center opens, up to 100 specialists must be ready. Otherwise, the center will be built, but who will work there? We know cases where expensive equipment was purchased, but there was no one to work on it," he said.

The World Mammoth Center is an integrating project. "Presently, the regional scientific and educational institutions are working separately. We hope that the center will solve this problem," the scientist added

World Mammoth Center

The World Mammoth Center in Yakutsk is planned in compliance with the Strategy for the Development of the Russian Federation's Arctic Zone and the National Security for up to 2035. The center's construction is on a long-term plan for the integrated social and economic development of the Yakutsk urban agglomeration for up to 2030. More than 70% of the world's fossil mammoth bone and other mammoth fauna remains are located in Yakutia.

As a rule, the mammoth fauna objects found in Yakutia are well preserved. Up to 90% of all unique finds with soft tissues have been in Yakutia. Additionally, fossil animals with preserved biological fluids have been found in Yakutia only.