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Russia to Unlock 50,000-Year-Old Viruses from Ice Age



Russia plans to decode 50,000-year-old prehistoric viruses from frozen creatures.

Scientists at the Kremlin are extracting prehistoric viruses from ancient animals frozen in permafrost, including some from the world’s coldest city.

Scientists in Russia collect samples from a 4,500-year-old horse named Verkhoyansk.

Russian scientists intend to extract 50,000-year-old prehistoric viruses from ancient animal carcasses frozen in permafrost.

This week, Kremlin experts are taking samples from a collection of beasts found preserved in ice in recent years.

The researchers are working with extinct woolly mammoths and hairy rhinos, as well as prehistoric dogs, horses, elk, rodents, and hares.

A 50,000-year-old lemming is thought to be one of the oldest animals.

Vector State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology is leading the effort, which was once a Cold War biological warfare research facility established by Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.

Vector experts and Mammoth Museum employees collect Verkhoyansk horse samples.

Scientists collected 50 samples from ancient beasts yesterday and expect to collect the same number tomorrow from carcasses housed at Russia’s North-Eastern Federal University’s Mammoth Museum in Yakutsk, the world’s coldest city.

The research is distinct from ongoing international efforts to resurrect extinct species such as woolly mammoths and rhinos in laboratories using DNA from the same sources.

Scientists with the carcass of an estimated 28,000-year-old Malolyakhovsky mammoth

“We want to find palaeo-viruses so that we can start developing palaeo-virology in Russia,” said vector scientist Dr. Olesya Okhlopkova.

The goal is to “conduct advanced research” on the “evolution of viruses,” but experts have previously warned that going back in time could pose a risk of zombie infections.

She was collecting soft tissue samples from long-dead animals.

Dr. Okhlopkova stated that they would try “whole genome sequencing, which allows scientists to obtain data on the entire biodiversity of microorganisms in a sample.”

Scientists examine a 4,500-year-old horse carcass.

“If the nucleic acids were not destroyed, we will be able to obtain data on their composition and determine how it changed, what the evolutionary progression of events was.”

They hope to deduce the “epidemiological potential of currently existing infectious agents” by studying “significant trends” in the evolution of viruses since prehistoric times.

The animals have been discovered in the Arctic and sub-Arctic as permafrost has thawed.

It is hoped that the research will aid in learning more about prehistoric diseases.

“The first find with a selection of soft tissues was the Verkhoyansk horse in 2009,” said Dr. Maxim Cheprasov, acting director of the Mammoth Museum.

“The scientific significance of the discovery is that its entire nuclear genome was deciphered, allowing us to learn about the origins of the modern Yakut horse.”

These horses can survive in temperatures as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius.

“The Mammoth Museum has long-standing ties with the Vector,” said museum scientist Dr. Sergey Fedorov.

“We hope to find palaeoviruses and make interesting discoveries in the world of viruses.”

The Verkhoyansk horse’s 4,450-year-old remains were discovered in north-east Yakutia in 2009.

The Tumat dog, a perfectly preserved mummified puppy discovered sealed in Siberian permafrost after more than 12,400 years, was also involved in the virus hunt.

It was a three-month-old female that was discovered by chance by two brothers looking for woolly mammoth tusks.

A second Tumat puppy and a 42,170-year-old foal discovered at Batagay were also sampled.

They also took biological material from the Malolyakhovsky mammoth’s 28,800-year-old carcass, including the world’s oldest trunk.


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‘Queen’ Founding Member Shares Crop Circle Picture



On May 24th, Brian May, a founding member of the rock band Queen who later earned a Ph.D. in astrophysics, posted several images to Instagram of a crop circle seen near Marlborough, England.

“Have you noticed anything out of the ordinary here in the English countryside?” The photos were captioned by May. “I’d never seen a crop circle before. As a result, I’m always skeptical of them. But yesterday, as we flew back from our production rehearsal space, over a location near Marlborough, there was this. […] Who creates these fascinating works of mathematical art? Is it a hoax? Are they created by extraterrestrials? And… how…? And what is their goal?”
Responses to May’s post have been mixed, with some claiming that the phenomenon is paranormal, while others believe that hoaxers are to blame.

Crop circles have sparked speculation in the modern era since at least the mid-1970s, with theories ranging from hoaxers to otherworldly beings to “earth energies.”

Despite the fact that people have claimed responsibility for certain crop circle formations, mysterious circles of flattened plants discovered in fields date back much further than modern-day hoaxers.

W.Y. Evans-Wentz recorded folktales of faeries coming in the night to thresh farmers’ grain in his 1911 book The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries. Similarly, in 1678, an English woodcut pamphlet depicts ‘The Mowing-Devil,’ who is shown mowing crops in a circular pattern.

While some dismiss these as folkloric inspiration for modern-day hoaxers, others see them as proof of a phenomenon that predates man-made imitation.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the crop circle photographed by May.


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DoD Announces Expanded Effort to Investigate UFOs



According to a press release issued by the Department of Defense (DoD):

Due to the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2022, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), amended her original directive to the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security on July 15, 2022, by renaming and expanding the scope of the Airborne Object Identification and Management Group (AOIMSG) to the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO).

USD(I&S) Hon. Ronald S. Moultrie informed the department today of the establishment of AARO within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security, and named Dr. Sean M. Kirkpatrick, most recently the chief scientist at the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Missile and Space Intelligence Center, as its director.

The AARO’s mission will be to coordinate efforts across the Department of Defense and other federal departments and agencies in the United States to detect, identify, and attribute objects of interest in, on, or near military installations, operating areas, training areas, special use airspace, and other areas of interest, and, as needed, to mitigate any associated threats to operational safety and national security. Anomaly, unidentified space, airborne, submerged, and transmedium objects are included.

Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security (USD(I&S)) Ronald Moultrie will lead the AARO Executive Council (AAROEXEC), which will provide oversight and direction to the AARO along the following primary lines of effort:

1. Surveillance, Collection and Reporting
2. System Capabilities and Design
3. Intelligence Operations and Analysis
4. Mitigation and Defeat
5. Governance
6. Science and Technology

This newly reported expansion of the Pentagon’s UFO investigation program follows low congressional trust in their investigative efforts.

Following the release of the much-anticipated preliminary assessment report on UFOs by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence last year, many in the intelligence community were critical of what they saw as the report’s failure to offer any concrete explanations for most of the incidents examined, particularly in light of concerns about secret Russian or Chinese technology.

The Pentagon then promised to revamp the task force in charge of investigating UFOs, which resulted in the formation of the AOIMSG, which has since been renamed the AARO.

This reflects Congress’ growing interest in UFOs, which was most recently demonstrated during a House Intelligence Subcommittee hearing on the subject last May—the first of its kind in more than 50 years.

The congressional hearing allowed lawmakers to question the Pentagon about unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP)—the current government term for UFOs—and for government officials to explain their current position and outline plans to investigate the issue further.

During the hearing, there were few mentions of extraterrestrials, though the Pentagon did express a particular interest in reports containing unusual flight characteristics such as incredible speed, transmedium capabilities, and undetectable means of propulsion.

Since the existence of the Pentagon’s Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP), which reportedly ran from 2007 to 2012, was made public in 2017, congressional interest in UFOs has skyrocketed.

Interest in the encounters between Navy pilots and UFOs grew, and in 2019, several senators, including Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), then vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, were briefed on them.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, led at the time by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), then included a directive in their Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 ordering the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to create a report on “unidentified aerial phenomena” in consultation with the Secretary of Defense.

That bill resulted in the formation of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF), which was in charge of producing the aforementioned preliminary assessment report.


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The Marlborough Monkey is a Cryptid Fans Classic



The latest documentary by researcher and filmmaker Karac St. Laurent, The Legend of the Marlborough Monkey, takes a fresh look at an older and often overlooked series of cryptid sightings in New Hampshire.

Most people don’t think of Bigfoot sightings in the northeastern United States, but St. Laurent has made a compelling case for taking the subject seriously while still having fun along the way.

The film is a tribute to the classic cryptid documentaries of the 1970s, and it was shot to look like an 8mm film being watched on a VHS tape. With thematic music and Robert Ready’s absolutely perfect deadpan narration, viewers could be forgiven for not immediately recognizing this as a documentary shot in 2021.

Despite its aesthetic, the film is very much a product of modern investigation, and St. Laurent conducts field investigations using equipment anachronistic to the 1970s, both solo and in collaboration with Small Town Monsters alum Aleksandar Petakov.

When some filmmakers might have been content to show only the interviews with researchers and witnesses included in the documentary, the field investigations were a nice touch. Folklorist John Horrigan is an especially bright addition to an already entertaining documentary, and his unique blend of wit and historical storytelling could have carried the film on its own.

Horrigan, interestingly, coined the term “The Marlborough Monkey” to describe the hairy humanoid being reported by New Hampshire residents in the 1990s, based on one account in which the witness said the creature looked like an orangutan. Those reports never stopped, and sightings of ‘The Marlborough Monkey’ are still being reported today.

St. Laurent, however, does not stop with stories; similarly to his first documentary, Release the Bodette Film, a variety of evidence is presented for the viewers to peruse. Much like that film, the viewer is ultimately left to decide what to believe, despite the fact that the vast majority of the film approaches the subject from a staunchly materialistic standpoint. Petakov makes a passing reference to high strangeness during an interview late in the film, but otherwise the assumption is that if something strange is going on, it’s most likely an undiscovered primate. This isn’t necessarily a negative, depending on your point of view, and those who prefer materialist science in the hunt for cryptids will appreciate the film’s mainstream take on the phenomenon.

That viewpoint is consistent with the 1970s-era documentaries to which it pays homage, and given the evidence presented, there’s never any sense that the investigation should be taking a different path. If The Legend of Boggy Creek is one of your favorite documentaries, check out The Legend of the Marlborough Monkey.

The Legend of the Marlborough Monkey has a run time of 43:14 and will be available to watch for free on the Crash-Course Cryptozoology YouTube channel starting at noon on September 12th. Expect it to be available on DVD around Thanksgiving.


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