"Two by two, male and female, they entered the ark to join Noah, just as God had commanded," reads Genesis 7:9 from the Bible. Though it's not quite the same thing, Moscow State University in Russia has recently embarked on an ambitious project that might just be the modern-day equivalent to Noah's Ark, reports rt.com.

The university has secured Russia’s largest-ever scientific grant for the purpose of collecting the DNA of every living and extinct creature in the world. The massive DNA databank will be the first of its kind, and it could be the key to preserving our planet's biological heritage for eons to come.

"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," said MSU rector Viktor Sadivnichy.

The project, set to be completed by 2018, will be significantly larger than the mythical Ark from the Bible. To house so much material and data, the depository will encompass about 166 square miles, to be built at one of the university's central campuses. 

"It will enable us to cryogenically freeze and store various cellular materials, which can then reproduce. It will also contain information systems. Not everything needs to be kept in a Petri dish," Sadivnichy added.

The databank will be filled with biomaterials from all of MSU’s branches, including the botanical garden, the anthropological museum, the zoological museum and others. It will take a collective effort from all of the university's departments and will promote participation from the university's students too.

If the project's goals are accomplished, it could one day mean the end of biological extinction on Earth — a monumental feat. And since the databank is intended to harbor DNA from recently extinct animals, it could also be part of a larger effort to one day bring extinct species back to life.

"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," said Sadivnichy.

Related on MNN: