Moscow State University announced it has received Russia’s largest scientific grant ever to help it realize its ambition of collecting genetic material for every living – and extinct – creature that has ever traversed the Earth, a project it is calling “Noah’s Ark.”
Russia's English-language network RT reported Friday that besides collecting DNA information on all living creatures, the university plans to construct a "gigantic" ark-like structure on campus in which to store the samples.
Moscow State University Rector Viktor Sadivnichy said:
I call the project ‘Noah’s Ark.’ It will involve the creation of a depository – a databank for the storing of every living thing on Earth, including not only living, but disappearing and extinct organisms. This is the challenge we have set for ourselves.
It will enable us to cryogenically freeze and store various cellular materials, which can then reproduce. … Not everything needs to be kept in a petri dish.
A university spokesman told RT that it was given a record 1-billion ruble grant (approx. $19 million) to realize its "Ark" vision.
“If it’s realized, this will be a leap in Russian history as the first nation to create an actual Noah’s Ark of sorts,” the rector added.
Britain's Daily Mail noted that the Russian project follows earlier efforts to preserve the genetic samples of plants and animals, most notably the San Diego Zoo’s Frozen Zoo project and the British Frozen Ark initiative which cryopreserve the DNA of endangered species.