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. Arpad101

    Can I eventually buy one as a pet?

    January 17, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake Buskirk

      I am sure Walmart they will be available at Walmart asap.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bee

      NO! The real burning question is: "Will Apple develop an "app" for that?" 😉

      January 18, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. raven

    It kind of makes me wonder what they've already done that we dont know about . It wouldnt be nearly as fascinating to clone say,another Dolly. I thought since her death they were still grappling with the ethical issues of cloning? And before everyone attacks me for my ignorance, i already know i am . Was just curious about where they draw the line now . Are they saying its only unethical to clone humans but everything else is fair game ?

    January 17, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ConFu

    Man I hope it tastes like chicken.

    January 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Chase

    all I have to say is: If they start cloning raptors I'm swallowing a bullet.

    January 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Soquilii

    Jeez, here I am touting science over religion and scientists want to go and do a fool thing like this. The money they're spending could go toward a cure for cancer. What in holy hell are they going to do with an animal whose time came and went?!?!?!?!?!?

    January 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      It might make a good fur wholly coat

      January 17, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Czarina

      In theory, any research is gene manipulation can ultimately be used in the cure toward cancer. You're right, it appears that this is scientific playtime, but the information learned from this more justifiable than similar work done on humans.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mike

    I really think that we are treading on dangerous territory here. There are species that are extinct because we, being man, caused their extinction and there are many species who went extinct because of natural law. For us to be doing this is messing with forces of nature that has dictacted what life survives and which ones don't. There is a reason why the Mammoth went extinct and we should accept that fact that the species was not selected to live on.

    January 17, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Funkymonkey1

      Selected by who? What's to say that bringing the Mammoth back is not part of the Natural Order? There are many who thought that sailing beyond the known bounderies of man's world was also unnatural and those who argued that the creation of modern medicines such as penicillin was unnatural.

      Besides, the Mammoth only became extinct because they didn't make room for him on the Ark. Think of this as his second chance.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • weasel

      Are you honestly trying to equate natural selection with, a controlled thought out process?

      Nature selects nothing. Luck wins out.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Weelokthen

      You are joking about the ark right?

      January 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Psuedofear

      Oh No! We could be facing jurassic park 5 if we bring back one wooly mammoth. As long as its not used for inhumane or unmoral purposes what is the threat? A really hairy elephant? Jesus Christ take a chill pill, and accept that this is a good step because it can lead to preventing the extinction of vital animals to the enviroment.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hunter Henry

      I think you should go extinct, because you talked a lot but made no logical point or argument, except that you think because we human killed wooly mammoths (not a scientific fact, by the way) that it should not be brought back as a specie. Going by your logic, why reverse anything man made, including global warming, pollution etc.? It is dangerous for an ignoramus to say things and present them as truth. That's the only thing that is dangerous here.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Relax. The wooly mammoth is a hairy elephant, not a T-rex or a parasitic alien. If it escapes, it will browse on leafy plants and trumpet at passers-by, just like its modern cousins. Some of you folks have been watching too many Hollywood movies without the corresponding hard science reading.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kev

      Can't wait to have Mammoth burgers!

      January 17, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kelley

      it was the uni-corn that missed the ark

      January 17, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vividwinter

      Scientists should not clone the mammoth. If successful, this poor baby animal would be the only one of its kind without parents and social support of other relations – a necessary requirement for physical, mental, and emotional health. This cloning effort is very selfish and will not provide any useful information as the animal will be raised in an unnatural environment and will end up lonely and probably unbalanced. Theses are sentient and feeling beings and this should not be attempted. Let the past rest in peace.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Too bad its not funny to consider a third of our own species population that has no healthcare or clean drinking water, or is entirely culturally dependent on fossil fuels. And we're using Allah know what and god's bank account to fund the grown up science fair project of birthing a mammoth, in hopes of learning why it went extinct. I'm a simple fireman and help build houses, and even I KNOW WHY THEY DIED. Little kids know too! Cause its not frozen in africa.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kirk

      Didn't these large cousins to elephants go because of over hunting?

      January 17, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Petez

      All I want to know is how do I score a tag on one of this beasts?

      January 17, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ian

      Actually, he has a point. Not that the mammoth will go crazy, but retroviruses could exist in its DNA which no one would have immunity to. However thats a small risk, and they'd be more likely to affect more mammothy species than humans.
      That's not scifi btw.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bridget

      I agree Mike! 100%!

      January 17, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smarter Mike

      Mike...why don't stop taking medications, stop going to hospital if you are sick, stop genetic drugs, stop everything to do with technology and become extinct 🙂

      January 17, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • VZ572

      hey guys,
      if i get it all right, you would have every endangered species cloned and kept in zoos, so that they can not be extinguished by nature. But doesn't this automatically exclude the rule of natural evolution? I mean it takes away the chance for some species to evolve into stronger, maybe more intelligent ones. Mammoth are great, but they shouldn't exaggerate it and do it with every species they think is about to be extinct.

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


      LOL, I hope the Arc thing was a joke...

      January 17, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |

      Mike lacks the most basic understanding of evolution and natural selection.

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

      The whole thing angers me! God is the creator , we re not to clone! Personally Im tired of our country being in debt and my money being wasted and this is just one example of wasted money

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

      Your entire argument is based on a scene from Jurassic Park...

      Only someone who has lost his god given curiosity and his human spirit would be against this.

      January 17, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      Betty: re-read the part in the article where it says who is doing this. Our country has NOTHING to do with this, Not one nickel of YOUR money was spent in this experiment. Wake up and join the group eh?

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

      I dont know who sounds crazier... the guy with the original post or the person with the first reply stating that the reason for their extinction was due to the fact that there was no room on the ark. and Michael... I would love to see factual proof of a community in the US that does not have clean drinking water.. and the health care comment.. I won't dive in to it other than simply saying that health care is not a birth right no matter what country you live in.

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

      lol @ Betty's TODDLER MENTALITY

      January 17, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Austin3759

      The mammoth probably missed the Ark because he fiddle f@rted around packing his trunk before the first storm...

      January 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • denco8

      @ Betty.. How do you know it's not part of God's plan for us to clone the mammoth and bring it back?

      January 17, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Excellent use of cutting edge and old technology. Though, one poster DID have valid concerns regarding group support and rearing, said animal would NOT be alone by nature. There would be a mother elephant to support it until it's at least adolescent, hence a non-issue.
      There is also the concern that the elephant mitochondria are compatible with the needs of the mammoth. Fairly probable, but remains to be proven.
      Retroviral issues are moot. Most diseases wouldn't impact other species.
      Of interest will be if the mammoth attains full size, as oxygen percentage is lower these days than during the ice age.

      Next, bring back the Dodo.

      January 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Glen

      Turn off Jurassic park, the real world is not that scary.

      January 17, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • asdfasd

      Kinki University?!?! Dude!

      January 17, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • S Kyle

      Who's to say the logical conclusion of evolutionary development doesn't include the most superior species' using his intellect to resurrect ancestorial lines?

      January 17, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • J G

      Wow – there are some seriously disturbed people posting in these comments. All this concern about God's will, blah blah blah.

      January 17, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • shades

      trolls, trolls everywhere..

      but in all honesty Ian Malcom, you've been watching too much Jurassic Park. These aren't velociraptors that can use door handles.

      also, to those few creationists out there, I have this to day: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! OH WOW!

      January 17, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kraznodar

      Know how to get on an ark if you are a unicorn? You 'neek on.

      January 17, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Smarter Mike: I would drop the "smarter" part of your handle... unless you want to start proofreading your comments before you post them. Just an idea that might up your credibility.


      January 17, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Czarina

    I was hoping to dress like Wilma and Betty for Halloween 2017. Now I can wear the authentic Flintstones outfits!

    January 17, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ryan

    I feel bad for that elephant that will have to give birth to that wooley mammoth. Aren't mammoths like twice the size or even three times larger than an elephant???

    January 17, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Concerned for your health

      Not at birth idiot!

      January 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Weelokthen


      January 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hunter Henry

      I feel bad for Ryan. His head is wayyyyyyyyyy too small for his body!

      January 17, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      I am sure a new born baby mammoth is substantially larger than a baby elephant if you figure it to be proportional to the adult mammoths and elephants. I am sorry for the elephant that volunteers...She is going to experience some severe labor pains...haha

      January 17, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jarrod

      haha, Ryan ... I don't think the elephant is going to "volunteer" per say.

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

      Give that mom a C-section!

      January 17, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • CJWarnke

      Actually, Mammoths were generally smaller than a full grown african elephant. About the size of a Asian Elephant. There was one variety that was larger (up to 14 tons, vs up to 11 tons for very large African elephants. 8 tons vs 6 tons average) However, they did not say that they were using that type of mammoth, and its only one variety.

      Mastodons were larger, and were an elephantine ancestor. However, they did not say they were using Mastodons, they specifically said mammoth.

      January 17, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ali

    How do they know that a mammoth embryo will even grow in an elephant? Or do they just not know yet?

    January 17, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff S

      Ali, they don't know yet (because this is the first real attempt), but the theoretical science shows that they should be able to, based on similar process with other animals. There are probably factors at play that the scientists don't fully understand yet, so it wouldn't be surprising for them to have some "Fails" before getting it right. Personally, I think it'll be awesome if it works, but they better keep any they create under high security so they don't get stolen and released to the wild.

      I think if we bring the mammoth back, God should eliminate those fake, orange ladybugs for us.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      They have similar DNA makeup of sorts...

      January 17, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • mrhapiguy

      I totally agree. Hate those fake ladybugs. Imposters!

      January 17, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shannon

      Wooly mammoths and elephants are closely related, evolutionarily speaking. The scientists are likely hoping that they are close enough to be able to carry offspring for each other. It's kind of like implanting a donkey embryo in a horse. Even though they're not the same species, the horse would be able to carry the baby donkey to term and birth it, just as it would a foal.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Arpad101

    Will the eventually clone Neanderthals?

    January 17, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ike

      We already have those... they are called politicians.

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

      No need to; plenty of them running around; most are found in network news, some even have talk this epoch they are called Democrats.

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

      They already have and a few of them are living in the house next to me.................

      January 17, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      I live with one too.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • lonewolf777

      Yes, you can find them over at Fox News.listening to Glenn Beck.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • willow

      There is some trace evidence that Neanderthal (or Neandertal) DNA may already be contained in the DNA of some modern humans.

      Of course even if this were true and certain existing races were declared having traces of Neanderthal DNA, think of the racial unrest it would cause.

      January 17, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ERM

    This is the next chapter of the human story – We're connecting the dots

    January 17, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Edwards

    The real question is how do we de-clone some of those who make comments here.

    January 17, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck Darwin

      Every warning label we apply, mitigates the Darwin effect. If we keep pointing out the obvious we'll never evolve cause. Go ahead, use the top step of a ladder.... smoke that Marlboro....super size is a right!!!

      January 17, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • conoclast

      Hey now you're onto something! De-cloning, reverse-engineering, or maybe mass lobotomies - anything to rid the human race of its ball & chain: religion. I'm thinking we should maybe re-examine the Guyana Solution!

      January 17, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Chuck Darwin

    Really? This is the burning scientific question we're dumping time, money and resourcs into?

    Why did a couple tons of furry elephant go extinct? Does this mean we have to clone democrats to understand whey they got trounced in the mid-terms?

    January 17, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Weelokthen

      Way to see the big picture there chumpy.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob - NJ

      The Democrats didn't get trounced, a number of non-Democrats were elected which shifted power in the House. But the Senate is still Democrat-heavy and the Pres is Democrat. The November election was not the presidential election. The election that really counts is the presidential, and...guess what...Obama is going to win again.


      January 17, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Lady Gag

    JURASSIC PARK – Here we go !! What's next, raptors?

    January 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      Did we find any of those perfectly preserved in ice with viable cells to clone? NO, Dinosaurs and Mammoths are not at all similar in age. Mammoths lived side by side with humans for thousands of years. Dinosaurs were gone for MILLIONS of years before either existed. Fossils are mineral replaced and are not preserved animals. Mammoths have been found 100% preserved in Siberia. Close the book with "the ark" in it and learn something.

      January 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. allen

    cool stuff,I will pay the price to see this creature if it survives.To all the bible thumpers and and naysayers,
    I`d rather see science take this route rather than expend enormous resources trying to develope more efficient methods of killing

    January 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      The mammoth might make a good efficient method of killing.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      Hopefully the people who want Americans dead will also start to feel that way. 🙂

      I agree it's cool, but why a mammoth, rather than first using a threatened species, that would potentially benefit today, as well as having other specimens still alive to compare and verify the process actually works. Maybe they do have that plan but it's just not as newsworthy.

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