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Yakutia organizes mammoth consortium to study prehistoric animals

The World Mammoth Center could be a base for systematic approaches to the sector, including for making mammoth fauna catalogues
Yamal’s Governor Aisen Nikolayev Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS
Yamal’s Governor Aisen Nikolayev
© Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

YAKUTSK, November 24. /TASS/. A consortium of Russian and foreign experts in mammoths will be organized in Yakutia to study the prehistoric fauna. The consortium will be a scientific branch of the World Mammoth Center, which the region establishes, Yamal’s Governor Aisen Nikolayev said.

Yakutia is the world’s leader in remains of the mammoth fauna - 90% of discoveries have been made in the region, which is located on the perennially frozen soils. The permafrost layer thickness reaches 800 meters. Paleontology objects are well preserved in the permafrost conditions. Every year, up to 120 tonnes of mammoth tusks are found in the region.

"In June, 2022, Yakutsk will host an international mammoth forum, where agreements on a new mammoth consortium in the region may be inked. The consortium will consolidate and integrate resources of scientific and educational institutions, involved in studies of the mammoth fauna, and thus it will become a single scientific and educational space for sustainable development of Yakutia and the Russian Arctic zone. The World Mammoth Center will favor from cooperation between Yakut scientists and leading Russian and foreign research centers," the governor said.

The task of the World Mammoth Center is to add to the planet’s biodiversity by returning into the nature of extinct biological species and creating more sophisticated ecosystems, as well as to preserve with care the global cultural and scientific heritage. President Vladimir Putin has included the project into the national strategy for development of the Russian Federation’s Arctic zone and the national security strategy for the period to 2035. The government has put the project on the list of events to implement the national policies in the Arctic. Yakutia has included the center’s organization into its strategic documents.

Center’s tasks

According to the governor, the World Mammoth Center could be a base for systematic approaches to the sector, including for making mammoth fauna catalogues. By using such an approach, specialists will obtain new knowledge about the climate and ecology of the late Pleistocene period, will structure ancient genomes, cellular tissues, biocenoses, and will also promote the Arctic.

"The center’s scientific concept will have a complete cycle, including organization of the mammoth fauna objects, their original preservation, comprehensive studies and presentation of the objects to the wide audience," the governor added.

The region plans to build five key infrastructure facilities. The main facility will by a cryo-storage, which will be organized in line with traditions, the locals have been using for centuries - they have been using the advantages of the permafrost and long cold winters to keep food supplies. The locals usually build ice storages, where the ice remains deep-frozen even in the hottest summer months.

The mammoth center will have a laboratory complex of three sectors - a paleontology sector for traditional studies, a sector for radiography and isotope studies to learn ages, migration routes; and a paleo-genomic sector to study ancient genomes, including cloning methods.

"This complex will be a basis to implement one of the super tasks the World Mammoth Center is facing - the ambitious idea to revive mammoths by using biotechnologies," the governor said.

Data promotion

The World Mammoth Center’s museum and exhibition facility with an educational center will be used to organize paleontology exhibitions, to study methods for preserving museum exhibits, and to conduct anatomic and morphological research, including with interactive and multimedia technologies. "In my opinion, this complex will make a synergy effect by being the Arctic’s new center of attraction," the governor said.

The center will have the Ice Age Park - a scientific site to study the global climate changes in the late Pleistocene and in the Holocene, to reproduce major climate factors in those periods.

"At that site, experts will receive results from watching behavior of the animals, which became extinct many thousands of years ago. At the same time, the site will attract attention from international scientific centers, studying the climate changes, and will grow into a unique tourist attraction, which presents the mammoth epoch in natural conditions," he added.

The World Mammoth Center will organize a network of stations to monitor expeditions in Yakutia’s Arctic districts. The stations will be used to make decisions regarding mining or preservation of found materials.