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. Really?

    But we already have a mammoth, or has Snookie gone away and I missed it?

    January 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Devin

    Hahaha!! Sutler, just out of curiosity, have you taken your meds today?

    January 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. txkboy

    Remember what happened in Jurassic Park!?! Bad idea.

    January 17, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Try reading the other 50 identical posts to yours and the replies ...

      January 17, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Funkymonkey1

      I also remember what happened in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but I still eat candy.

      January 17, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dennis

    A Mammoth Resurrection?

    All glory to the Pachyderm!

    January 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mammoth

    F-Ing Cool! I would travel wherever it was being kept to see this thing if/when it reaches adult-hood.

    January 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lover of Elephants

    Bruce, obviously the mammoth would not be born "full size," but the baby might be larger than an elephant baby. But I'll have to do more research on relative sizes of elephants and mammoths.

    January 17, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Maria

    And just think that in about 10,000 years you could be the one getting cloned.

    January 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bho123

    Ofcourse we are running low on fossil fuels.. create the mammoths ->kill them..-wala.. you have plenty of fossil fuel again

    January 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake Buskirk

      I wonder if current elephant species will feel inferior or superior to the mammoth. Maybe the mammoth hair will be a big turn-on for female elephants and they will be bred out of existence.

      January 17, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Merrilyne

    Dinosauer for real? What ARE you thinking?

    January 17, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Funkymonkey1

    My prediction is that they leither ose funding early on or fail miserably and try to save face by covering an elephant with rogaine.

    January 17, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mammoth E. Jones


    January 17, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Michael Daily

    I'd that even in the odd event this worked, the birth size of the mammoth fetus would be too large for the elephant's uterus.

    January 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • MostPeopleAreStupid

      No arguing with that point. We all know that a uterus is not meant to expand and that no elephant has ever given birth to twins ...

      January 17, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake Buskirk

      i beg to differ. I've stretched a uterus or two in my day.

      January 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Funkymonkey1

      My guess is that they are just going to let the Mammoth gestate through the critical period, at which time they will remove it from the surrogate mother. Following that, they will most like incubate it for the remaining gestational period.

      That's just my two cents. Then again, I have a rather limited knowledge of Mammoth husbandry.

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

      @Jake LOL. And please help me find the sarcasm emoticon so that you won't take my comments literally.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Cyniq

    Those of you who want to eat 'Mammoth Burgers' (McMammoth?) will have to wait some time. We don't eat elephant burgers and we have a lot more of these available. 😉

    January 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. J

    How long do think it will be before photos are released of the scientist riding on the back of the mammoth??

    January 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ken

    Look at how fast science moves. The Human Genome project was funded over the years in the 90's for a cost in the Billion dollar plus range. Over time as new techniques and technology were applied, the cost and time had dropped dramatically. Why in 2009, several companies were offering complete sequencing for the $50K range. In 2010, prices dropped to $20K and down to $10K over the year. And several firms are stating their second generation sequencing machines, set to come out by 2013, should be able to do a complete genome sequence with a 99% accuracy for around $1000. Now mix in genectic controls. Applying similar advancements in techonology as this timeline, we might predicate they complete a close with success in 6-10 years, within 15-20 years the cost and tech will drop this to the point that Greenpeace and others start spending cash to resurrect extinct species, and in 20-25 years the cost and time will be so low that the well off can get their own home grown pets and species, if they like. You'll see huge programs underway by groups with donations (that the wealthy like to support to look good) to restore "X" to the environment. Politicians will sing the praises of reversing the damage wrought by man across the planet. Efforts will be made to store samples of all endangered species, frozen, so they can be restored at some point. Should be some interesting times, assuming we don't kill ourselves trying to get there.

    January 17, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
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