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. Robin Bray

    An Indian elephant would be a closer relative species to clone with. Why use the African species?

    January 17, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carl

      I don't know about similarities among elephant-like species, but they are taking a complete genome and implanting it in the host cell/womb. They don't have to worry about the challenges of cross-breeding compatibility because it is not a cross breed, and a fetus is already mostly isolated from its mother (it is SOP for all babies to have different genes, blood types, etc, from their mothers). Similarity is probably still important, but probably less so than for an organ transplant or cross.

      January 17, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Angela

    Lets start cloning and bringing back the animals we made extinct, and put a lock down on the over population we have going!!

    January 17, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Logic

    Thanks for the laughs all, especially from the ones who were serious.

    January 17, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Me

    So wait, if they do succeed, does thin mean it will go on the endagered species list and then create a whole bunch of new laws and regulations in order to protect it and prevent it from going extinct again?

    January 17, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Fun Bobby

    Big Bird is excited. Just saw him at Bert & Ernie's house. He's super pumped.

    January 17, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. NewMammoths

    Don't know why they're inserting the DNA into an African elephant egg cell, since mammoths are much more closely related to Asian elephants than African elephants. In fact, mammoths have recently been found to be as genetically similar to Asian elephants as the two subspecies of African elephants are to each other.

    January 17, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. scienceguy

    I heard that Mammoth poo have been proven to cure AIDS and cancer, thus bringing back a Mammoth by cloning is not only scientifially ethical, but moral as well. (Study on if Mammoth poo will cure stupidity will come next... stay tuned! This last comment is for those of you who cried "danger Robinson))

    January 17, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Me

    Finally! We're taking the training bra off science and trying the really cool stuff!

    Ethics is just a fancy way of holding back real progress.

    Lets clone a human next!

    January 17, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • sciguy73

      What makes you think they haven't?

      January 17, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Iceman83

    I wonder how they taste. A electrical utility could build a methane power plant in their pasture We'd only need a few to make it work.

    January 17, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Funkymonkey1

      On behalf of the folks at FAME (Folks Against Mammoth Exploitation), I respectfully protest your posting.

      January 17, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake Buskirk

      Be warned iceman. We have a cool van and "mammoth members".

      January 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. scriss

    If these mammoths went extinct during the last Ice Age, bringing them back now should be about right, given the global warming thing that's going on. Now if these scientists could come up with a gene therapy to accelerate ivory growth, this could be a money-maker.

    January 17, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake Buskirk

      first they were killed-off by the ice age. We can bring them back so that they can get killed-off again by global warming. they are weak.

      January 17, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Musing Lew

      Global warming (AGW) is a fairy tale only believed in by morons and liberals...

      January 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      Fact, carbon holds heat and slowly releases it back. Fact, combustion engines running on fossil fuel put out tons of carbon annually, under normal use. Fact, the carbon and the heat it holds is causing measurable change in global temps, Fact, there is far more proof that global warming is real than there is that your God is real.

      January 17, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Musing Lew

      "Aarrgghh

      Fact, carbon holds heat and slowly releases it back. Fact, combustion engines running on fossil fuel put out tons of carbon annually, under normal use. Fact, the carbon and the heat it holds is causing measurable change in global temps, Fact, there is far more proof that global warming is real than there is that your God is real."

      You prove my point for me. First of all, no where do you state a fact. You state a bunch of opinion you wish to pass as fact. Let's look at your "facts". #1 (carbon holds heat and slowly releases it back) really? Please point out one scientifically repeatable experiment that proves this. You can't. Know why? There is none! #2 (Combustion engines produce tons of Carbon annually) How much exactly? Now that would be a fact. Then let's compare that to how much CO2 is "produced" in natural planetary cycles. #3 (the carbon and the heat it holds is causing measurable change in global temps) again, really? Do you need a quick lesson about the leaked emails from England? Since when exactly have we kept a record of global temperature? Do you even have an educated guess? So, not only are you not stating a fact here, you are actually making an extrapolation off your first assumption. Since the first is highly flawed my guess is that your extrapolation is even more so. #4 ( there is far more proof that global warming is real than there is that your God is real) This is your most asinine assumption. I never stated anything about my religious belief or even whether l held any. This pretty well demonstrates your inability to think independently and your inclination to clump those who disagree with you into neat little groups. How amusingly theophobic of you...

      January 17, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. big c

    2012 is on its way look at all the weather patterns .....look what scientist are trying to do the myans are right.....believe it or not all good things come too a end

    January 17, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • MostPeopleAreStupid

      ... and, yet, these posts go on and on and on and on ...

      January 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mark B

    I hope they succeed. It just might be delicious!!!

    January 17, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      A Big Mammoth Mac Burger. Yummy.

      January 17, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. faithwon

    I love how I got slammed for my comments and told that I was "smoking something" or that I have "neanderthal brains" (due to an assumption that I'm a "fundie"). If you want to say something to debate what I said, fine, but don't resort to personal attacks against my character or beliefs. I live by the axiom to treat others as I wish to be treated. By the tone of your replies, I would have to assume you would want to be treated rudely since that was how you treated me. I have a right to the opinion that just because science is able to do something, doesn't mean we should embark on that task. Cloning has an upside and a downside. This particular endeavor could have some damaging results not only for the animal itself, but for the elephant that will give birth, and on down the line to it's ability to live and function in this era.

    January 17, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fundies

      just can't relax. pull that rod out and unwind a bit.

      January 17, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • faithwon

      @Fundies – Made ya post! You just couldn't resist!

      January 17, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fundies

      God spoke to me and told me to post. not you.

      January 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Funkymonkey1

      And all this time I was thinking that fundies were simply underware with superhero's printed on them. I guess you learn something new every day.

      January 17, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Caleb Gosse

    If watching horrible sci-fi flicks and laughing at bad science in films has taught me anything. this will probably fail, but if it succeeds, nothing bad will happen. God help us, they're trying to clone a hairy elephant!!!! lol, but if they try to make another universe next, then i'll have issues with it. but i really doubt that cloning a mammoth is sacrilegious... that's not creating life from nothing, it's just kind of weird

    January 17, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. techchick

    I wonder if mammoths make good pets? :)

    January 17, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      I want to buy one.

      January 17, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
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