Scientists trying to clone, resurrect extinct mammoth
A woolly mammoth skeleton is seen on display at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas in September 2009.
January 17th, 2011
11:31 AM ET

Scientists trying to clone, resurrect extinct mammoth

Instead of Jurassic Park, try Pleistocene Park.

A team of scientists from Japan, Russia and the United States hopes to clone a mammoth, a symbol of Earth’s ice age that ended 12,000 years ago, according to a report in Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun. The researchers say they hope to produce a baby mammoth within six years.

The scientists say they will extract DNA from a mammoth carcass that has been preserved in a Russian laboratory and insert it into the egg cells of an African elephant in hopes of producing a mammoth embryo.

The team is being led by Akira Iritani, a professor emeritus at Kyoto University in Japan. He has built upon research from Teruhiko Wakayama of Kobe's Riken Center for Developmental Biology, who successfully cloned a mouse from cells that had been frozen for 16 years, to devise a technique to extract egg nuclei without damaging them, according to the Yomiuri report.

The U.S. researchers are in vitro fertilization experts. They, along with Kinki University professor Minoru Miyashita, will be responsible for implanting the mammoth embryo into an African elephant, the report said.

"If a cloned embryo can be created, we need to discuss, before transplanting it into the womb, how to breed [the mammoth] and whether to display it to the public," Iritani told Yomiuri. "After the mammoth is born, we'll examine its ecology and genes to study why the species became extinct and other factors."

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Filed under: Animals • Japan • Russia • U.S.
soundoff (1,588 Responses)
  1. ThePTB

    Lol @ "Kinki" University. I bet they're into some pretty wild stuff if you know what I mean.

    PS- Next stop, the dodo bird. Then the GOP can have a new mascot!

    January 17, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. steve harnack

    Does the elephant have any say about this?

    January 17, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake Buskirk

      duh. elephants don't talk. However, mammoths do. watch Sesame Street and check out Snuffalupagus. he doesn't have perfect diction but you can make out the words.

      January 17, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Karl

    Oh God, now you know what Obama is thinking.

    January 17, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jim

    So by cloning a mammoth they can "....examine its 'ecology'..." ??? Well that is about as feasible as cloning Liberace and ending up with his mansion, clothes, and piano beside his body.

    January 17, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Funkymonkey1

      Hahahaha. Nice.

      January 17, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ANDY

    When you start down this road, the only thing that will stop us is catastrophe. What i mean is, our need to satisfy imagination often clouds our reason and judgement.

    January 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bee

      To fuel your paranoia, the SyFy channel regularly has Disaster Movie Marathons. I just watched them last weekend and am still waiting for the volcanoes to erupt over Manhattan!

      January 18, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kevin

    Should scientists be bringing an extinct animal back to life, who has no herd to join, no mates to pass on genetic material, and no real purpose for existing, simply so scientists can say they did it?

    January 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Funkymonkey1

      They planned for that. They're going to set him up with an account on match.com.

      January 17, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • MostPeopleAreStupid

      I'm guessing the newborn would say "yes" ...

      January 17, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bee

      Hey Kevin! There's a website called youtube. It's a video hosting website. There's LOTS of videos on their of female's from different species "adoptiong and fostering" utterly unrelated species babies! Check it out! It should put you at ease. (snark alert over)

      January 18, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ummmmm

    I am a bit concerned for the surrogate. Do we know the size of a newborn mammoth? Or how long the gestation period for one is? What if the baby grows too large for the surrogate to safely deliver, or she is injured during the pregnancy. There are a lot of unknowns in this situation. I mean yes, I'd love to see a mammoth alive and walking around, however, I think that all precautions need to be taken. Not to mention I feel bad for the poor animal when it becomes an object for research and ceases being a living breathing animal worthy of respect.

    January 17, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kurt

    Now the elephant that give birth to that biggol thing will have a blue waffle

    January 17, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jim

    best post EVER!

    January 17, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kurt

    Wont the lady parts or the elephant be damaged?
    Discuss.

    January 17, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Cheyenne Dave

    I see a whole lot of new rodeo events involving mammoth.

    January 17, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Funkymonkey1

    They will finally be able to answer the age old question that has been plaguing the scientific community for generations. Did the Woolly Mammoth part his hair down the middle or on the side. What they find could have serious ramifications on what we know about the very origins of our own existence.

    January 17, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jim

    Best comment post....EVER!!

    January 17, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John Wu

    Dibs on riding one to work in Minnesota.

    Can scientists then resurrect other extinct things, like good rock music?

    January 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. R Greem

    I'd rather have a Tyrannosaurus Rex

    January 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
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