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. Frank - Canada

    Perhaps seeing a Mammoth, something we've never seen live, would be a phenomenal experience and would make us more thoughtful about our environment. But, lol, can you imagine, once the human species is extinct, another species cloning us back? That would be a bad mistake.

    January 17, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      wow you must really hate yourself

      January 17, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • BWGibbs

      WHAT IF... that's how we got here?? A little bit of intergalactic transportation, cross breeeding with locals, and poof!! UNHAIRY APES WITH UNUSUALLY HI IQ'S!!!

      January 17, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Hahaha... oh woe to the aliens that figure that out!

      January 17, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Codifex Maximus

      Two things:
      1. Bringing animals back from extinction might induce people not to care about nature so much – after all, we can bring em back right? Why worry?
      2. We bred ourselves. Ever hear a girl say "Eww he's too hairy?" I rest my case.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. rue morgue

    Excellent! Can we bring back Elvis the Pelvis?

    January 17, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      I asked for that before but no one wants to see his B movies. His songs were good though.

      January 17, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Duncan Druhl

    Ohh – (cue disappointment) I thought they were talking about Robert Maxwell.

    Too bad.

    January 17, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dan

    I'd pay $1M to go Mammoth hunting.

    January 17, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • nepawoods

      You ain't got that kind of money.

      January 17, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Extinct

      Hey Dan. Tell ya what -you give me your 1m and we'll go mammoth hunting. Just feel free to start without me. I'll be right there.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • dalis

      Comments like this are why I fully expect that someone would poach the only living mammoth on earth, probably for the ivory.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Chris

    If mammoths were herd animals, studying the behavior of one (absent the herd) won't get it. Plus – it's not going to be fun for the clone ("Hey, where is everybody?").

    January 17, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • eqk

      there is a high likelihood that it would blend into african elephant habits, basically same genetic makeup. it wont know the difference

      January 17, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. baggypants

    I'm amazed to learn that elephants lay eggs!

    January 17, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      I'm amazed to learn how hilariously ignorant you are.

      January 17, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • R.Johnson

      Good Grief! DUH!

      January 17, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      Yes they do and are extra careful when they sit down on the nest.

      January 17, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      Elephants also have wings. They fly using their ears.

      January 17, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • dalis

      Sure they do, baggypants! Haven't you read that classic of naturalist literature, Horton Hatches the Egg? 😉

      January 17, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TS

    tastes just like chicken

    January 17, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. glen usa

    what happens if they are successful and then clone a 40 ft prehistoric-croc. who would win ? the mammoth

    or the croc ?

    the odds in vegas would be on the croc !

    January 17, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vrrooomm Vroom

      Crocmoth! I'd go see it.

      January 17, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      They should cross breed them and see what they end up with. It surely would be the winner.

      January 17, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      It all depends on what season they have the fight. If they have it in the winter the croc, being moderately exothermic and all, would probably not be moving real fast, if at all. If they have it in August in Las Vegas they'd need to shave the mammoth first or it'd overheat. And who would come to see a fight between a crocodile and a naked mammoth?

      January 18, 2011 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
    • jonno23

      @Steve.

      me.

      January 18, 2011 at 6:10 am | Report abuse |
  9. RTinHuntsville

    Next week we're putting 2 Siberian tigers in Yellowstone . . . .

    January 17, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • arejaye

      Siberian tigers aren't/wern't native to North America Please play again

      January 17, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Extinct

      Hey arejay – after we put them there why don't you go camping there and let us know if they belong there in the morning

      January 17, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • BLAAH!!!

      What's it matter if it was or wasn't indigenous to North America?? Nothin' a few Humans can't fix..

      January 17, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ryan

    Where's Jeff goldblum when you need him.

    January 17, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • nepawoods

      never do

      January 17, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. chrisina

    Altho I believe that the past is the past for a reason I am how ever interested in seeing this creature in action hmmmm ;/

    January 17, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. CaptainKhos

    The scientist will get desperate and use their own DNA like in the movie Splice.
    Then they will have relations with the mammoth.

    January 17, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      lol, yeah that movie was a bit more disturbing than I initially anticipated...

      January 17, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • biologist

      Manmoth. The latest SyFy original 😉

      January 17, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dw

      Its already been done. I've seen the results at Wal-Mart

      January 17, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • McDuder

      But can the mammoth get it on with a pot bellied pig?

      Oh, yes, I believe it can.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jerry

    It's about time!

    January 17, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. gaboski

    its quite interestin to note that in the next 6yrs or thereabout, the earth wil have a new born baby to celebr8 about . Maybe d mammoth will become da 11th wonder.sic

    January 17, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim armstrong

      LearnToNotTypeLikeLikeYouSpeak nothing worse than a whiteboy typing like a brother for effect.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. solly

    Woolly mammoths, dodos, Some of the marsupials, passenger pigeons, and many other extinct species could be cloned, there are enough remnants of them in museums and private collections and, after all, mankind did drive them to extinction. Perhaps we could undo some of the damage done by our ancestors.

    January 17, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Fox

      the key word here is frozen, without being frozent the DNA is unlikely to be viable after so long.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • dalis

      Also, they can only clone females.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
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