Vicious prehistoric diseases

If a wooly mammoth can be thawed out intact from ice, would global warming release all sorts of prehistoric diseases that we have no resistance to?
The pyramids are supposed to contain vile ancient bacteria that killed many early explorers


Um, Pushkin, think about this. It is far more likely that the poor mammoth will drop dead of some fairly harmless elephant disease within its first few weeks. Remember, we are descended from the people who had enough resistance to those “Vicious prehistoric diseases” to live long enough to breed.

I dunno…if he’s still alive when they dig him up, he’d be pretty tough. :wink:

Lex Non Favet Delictorum Votis

Don’t scoff, JBENZ. It happened in Denmark when they only found a frozen piece of the tail of Reptilicus! That creature spontaneously regenerated its entire body after the fragment thawed out.

Dr. Fidelius, Charlatan

Science education from Creature Features.

Pushkin asks:

The answer is, “No”.
Global warming will not release prehistoric diseases no matter how many woolly mammoths are thawed.

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

However, as they are thawing out that mammoth in Siberia, even now there are teams of mad scientists and illuminati rushing to the scene, to gain control of the bacteria that will be released… causing massive hairiness in all humankind.

Although some say it will just cause woolly thinking.

Sure, but that was Denmark. You’d be able to regenerate from a piece of tail too if you lived on a diet of Lutefisk.

Lex Non Favet Delictorum Votis

By that, I assume you mean no “diseases” that would affect humans. But I imagine that it’s theoretically possible for a bacteria to form a spore and surivive centuries of freezing temperatures. The likelihood of a disease affecting a mammoth being equally contagious to homo sapiens is probably very low.

J’ai assez vécu pour voir que différence engendre haine.

Actually, no; I mean that global warming, even if it does exist, is unlikely to have any effect on what happens when a mammoth carcass is thawed,

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

I still contend that talking about a Danish piece of tail is far more interesting…

Dr. Fidelius, Charlatan
Associate Curator Anomalous Paleontology, Miskatonic University
“You cannot reason a man out of a position he did not reach through reason.”

We apologise for the fault in the sig files. Those responsible have been sacked.

And, just for the record, no woolly mammoth is being thawed out “intact” from ice. While that specimen in Siberia is surprisingly well-preserved (why am I writing “perversed”?), this is a relative term. Most of it is pretty much rotten.

There was an article in (I think) New Scientist about some people who believe that viruses can re-emerge when the polar ice caps start to thaw. I emphasize that I read about this in a serious magazine (I only read SciAm, New Scientist, Skeptic and Skeptical Inquirer).

Viruses can be extraordinarily hardy.

Of course, the OP referred to germs. I doubt they’d survive the freezing process any better than your average cryonaut.

Vicious prehistoric diseases? Hmm, I was wondering when we’d get into a discussion about Strom Thurmond. :wink:

–Da Cap’n

I think that the problem with prehistoric bacteria is not that they would survive, but that they wouldn’t. I know that humans and as far as I know all other animals absolutly require the activilities of various microbes that coexisit in the body. This is especially true for grazing animals, who need bacteria to break down tough fibers in grass. It was my understanding that these microbes were specis specific. Now, there is some semi-serious talk about someday cloning a mammoth. But without somehow recoving the intestianol bacteria, would it be possible for the animal to survive?

Probably not. The last time I visited a national park the rangers informed my group about the “Deer and Chocolate Problem.” Specifically, if you feed chocolate to a deer, you will kill the bacteria in its intestines. It will be unable to digest the grass and leaves it eats, and will starve no matter how much it eats. (Considering the deer problem in certain suburbs, maybe I shoudn’t have mentioned this, but…) If they cloned a mamoth, I suppose they could try to use the germs from an elephant’s colon. Whether that would be close enough is anybody’s guess.

“I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms.” -The Secret of Monkey Island

That’s an interesting thought. How do they get the bacteria in the first place? In utero? mother’s milk? Diet?

In any event, cloning probably wouldn’t involve growng the critter from scratch. More likely it would be a matter of injecting genetic material into the egg of a living elephant and, possibly the offspring might pick up what it needed from the mother.

Lex Non Favet Delicatorum Votis