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. Moronic Park

    Speaking of extinction maybe its time for us to become extinct... I mean look at the types of people around us... Sarah Palin, the cast of Jersey Shore, Real Housewives, Glenn Beck, Jared Lee Loughner, just to name a few...

    January 17, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • janie

      That would mean you would die as well...i guess moronic park is right and you're their main attraction! :)

      January 20, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JoeT

    Doesn't cloning mammoths make Jesus cry?

    January 17, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sutler

      Nope, your thinking of the Dodo bird.

      January 17, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      nope it's the nails and thorns that do that

      January 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. G

    I have a better idea. Why don't we take better care of the animals we already have that are threatened by extinction?

    January 17, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sutler

      But, by mastering the art of cloning, we will never have to worry about another species going extinct ever again! Its a win-win!

      January 17, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. gunther

    Yup just what we need, another animal for us to spend millions on studying, disecting, abusing, eating, then what, oh yeah, we kill them off and make them extinct. Hmm sound familiar?

    January 17, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. tired

    Ok, whether you are a supporter or not of this experiment, the arguing is stupid. Either way they are going to do it. And it never ceases to amaze me that no matter how small a subject, people always attack one another on here. Did no one learn anything from Arizona? News and politics got one psycho so worked up he shot six people including a little girl. The jokes, in my opinion -mammoth rail- are funny. Just leave each other alone.

    January 17, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Allen

    In 1984, this was a major April Fool's joke. Is this for real?

    http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/af_database/display/category/science/P15/

    January 17, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. EZ

    Bring back the Saber Toothed Tiger!

    January 17, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Misty

    Just because you can, it doesn't mean you should

    January 17, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sutler

      Tell that to Louis Pasture, Madam Curry, Albert Einstein, Newton, Aristotle, Galileo, and the countless others.

      By there examples, it most certainly means we should.

      January 17, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • bonnie

      WELL SAID!!!!!

      January 17, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobby

      Madame Curie died from exposure to radiation.

      January 17, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mark

    well, dennis, when you get your own planet you can rearrange the whole deal

    January 17, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. EZ

    We should really focus all scientific efforts and funding at stopping Plate Tectonics. I really do not want to become a Chineese province.

    January 17, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Zac

    Why clone a mammoth? Really why? They are extinct and they are extinct for a reason. They should be left that way. Maybe spend the time and money on something usefull like cancer research or clean energy.

    January 17, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Biologist

    Most of the respondents are missing the point of such an endeavor. The broader goal has nothing to do with creating something "cool" or "awesome". I hope the person who suggested something of a Pleistocene pony ride is kidding. Science is done one step at a time, with each successive experiment and experimenter building upon the work done previously. Only very rarely can we look at one discrete item of successful experimentation and recognize it, even after years of hindsight, as seminal and groundbreaking. The Nobel and Lasker committees spend lots of time trying to do this. Rather, we usually can't look at one successful experiment as an end to itself. If these scientists are successful at retrieving sufficiently-pure and -complete DNA from a long-dead, extinct beast, then implanting this material into a sufficiently-receptive oocyte shorn of its own nuclear material, and then gestating to and through birth a creature which has not been seen on this earth in tens of thousands of years, well, that would certainly be "cool". But what we as a scientific community would learn in the process would be amazing and no doubt applicable to other endeavors thus far unimagined. In some sense, this experiment is less science (as almost all the required steps have been investigated in other systems), and more engineering. So let's have less moralizing about the propriety of this effort, and more support for a team who is trying a very difficult thing from which we may learn a great deal.

    January 17, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sutler

      Come on Biologist, even you have to admit, a Pleistocene pony ride would be sweet!

      January 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • bonnie

      Maybe people should be "engineered" to just accept what the Lord has provided and leave it alone....focus on something in the here and now and dont "create' something that would live a miserable life

      January 17, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Terry

    This is awesome... I hope they can do it... maybe they will clone some T-Rex's too, which may help with our population problem. Cool!

    January 17, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Paris Tilton

    I want a miniature mammoth for my lap.

    January 17, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. mecatfish

    We have learned that some viruses that are bad for people require another species to get them started (chickens, Pigs, etc)..Ever worry if a virus is lurking out there that requires a mammoth to get it started?
    Cloning this thing could potentially kill us all, or at least another species.

    January 17, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sutler

      That must be one big flea.

      January 17, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
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