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. faithwon

    This is walking on very dangerous ground. This is an animal that we know nothing about with regard to actual living, breathing behavior. I agree with joe's post above. Just because we can doesn't mean we should. "All things are available to us, but are they beneficial?" (Paul, The Bible)

    January 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Funkymonkey1

      "Then Yahweh said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation. TAKE WITH YOU SEVEN PAIRS OF ALL CLEAN ANIMALS, the male and its mate; AND A PAIR OF THE ANIMALS THAT ARE NOT CLEAN, the male and its mate" Genesis 7:1-5

      Maybe they're just making up for Noha's oversight...

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

      LOL @ this is a very dangerous ground. This wooly mammoth is going to live next door to you, and provided you still smoke much of that illegal stuff, it may come over and pounce on you (and we all know how woolies get when they are high!)

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

      I've often wondered how you keep the sand out of your eyes when your head is buried in it ...

      January 17, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake Buskirk

      most people I have met named Paul are pretty gullible.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • magnus

      I would not worry about it. if prehistoric man with sticks and stones were able to make this animal extinct, i do not think the mammonth will be able to do any damage on Human civilization.

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

      have Neanderthal brains.

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

    This is scary. Next they will be trying to clone a T-Rex, etc. Leave it be. There is no need for such creatures in this day and age. Nature took its' course and we should leave well enough alone. Let's spend the money on cancer research or some worthwhile cause. Jurassic Park here we come. No, NO, NO!!!!!

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

      this project is pennys compared to the money they already invest in medical research for cancer, and this team is trained for this they wouldnt be much help in the cancer field so how about they throw there few cents at a project they are trained for and who knows innovations that can lead to

      January 17, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • shades

      JP was a failure because Hammond was not prepared to take necessary actions or precautions. They had not monitored the dinos with GPS chips, capture them for evaluation and check up monthly, and was reluctant to kill them if need be.

      January 17, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. boB

    We could also be creating a creature that will have diseases it mutates that become a danger to humans. So, it could be immune to a virus we have, but because it's system is immune, it causes the virus to mutate and now becomes a danger to us. We are treading on ground we have no business being on.

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

      Huh? Stop smoking crack and write a coherent sentence....

      January 17, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • littleln

      Oh wow. You really don't have a clue. You pretty much just made that up.

      Go read a text or two on immunology. I can't even begin to explain what was wrong with what you posted.

      January 17, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. boB

    Are you honestly trying to equate natural selection with, a controlled thought out process?
    Nature selects nothing. Luck wins out."

    Sorry, you are incorrect. When nature had an Ice-Age, that killed many species. There was no luck involved. The natural order of things. If they couldn't adapt, they perished. If they are extinct due to natural reasons, I say let them stay that way because it's unnatural to interfere. Just as environmentalists don't want us treading on land that a field mouse is using, neither should we PREVENT the NATURAL course of events to occur for a species.

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

      Expalin then, how did you come to this point of being in existent with the rest of us? Natural selection didn't work, and you are PROOF.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BackwoodsLawyer

    Should the scientists succeed and eventually display the animal to the public, I have but this piece of advice for them: Do not display the mammoth anywhere in the vicinity of Wasilla, AK.

    January 17, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Funkymonkey1

      Hahahaha. Awesome. At least the fitst five missed shots might give him a little heads up.

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

      Don't display it anywhere near a Democrat either. The poor creature will be taxed to death!

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

      throughout modern history, including during this administration, your taxes are LOWER under democrats. And they actually spend it doing things to make YOUR country better. You need to do your posting at Faux Noise.

      January 17, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carl

      Well, it IS true that the woolly mammoth hasn't paid any taxes in several thousand years, and think of the royalties it must have been collecting for books and cave paintings during that time. The penalties are going to be enormous.

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

    So if they impregnate a virgin elephant with the embryo, will this make the Wooly Mammoth the baby Jesus of the elephant world?

    Seriously though, this is pretty cool stuff. Ethical or not, I am not sure – but cool nonetheless. With our pollution and our constant wars, we may need this process for ourselves someday.

    January 17, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. David

    Playing GOD is not a good thing... Will bite them in the butt if they succeed, eventually, it always does.


    January 17, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Funkymonkey1

      And many viewed the creation of penicillin as "playing God". Advances in science are not necessarily the evil than many folks make them out to be. God created man and gave him the inate ability to evolve and to think for himself and to advance his knowledge. Who's to say bringing back the Mammoth is not part of God's plan?

      January 17, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      These people are not playing God. They actually exist.

      January 17, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carl

      If humans don't play "god", who will?

      January 17, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Arpad101

    Clone Elvis Presley

    January 17, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake Buskirk

      yeah, we need some more of those quality movies he made.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Funkymonkey1


      January 17, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      Blue Hawaii

      January 17, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Player63

    And so the end begins..... Wouldn't it be funny if we found out that the mammoths feed exclusively on humans and multiplied at a much faster rate that previously believed! I'm just saying.....

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

      I propose we feed you to the mammoth first... because we all know mammoth can breed by itself.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • MostPeopleAreStupid

      Not to burst your bubble while you're enjoying the confines of your Panic Room, but Mammoths were vegetarians ...

      January 17, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shannon

      Neither of those is remotely possible. You can tell from an animal's teeth whether it is an herbivore, omnivore, or carnivore. Wooly mammoths are herbivores; they have no canine teeth or any other teeth made for ripping meat. They just have molars, like elephants, for chewing plant material. Elephants are also a big clue to what wooly mammoths are like, because they are closely related. Elephants have year-long pregnancies to produce one baby at a time, so mammoths are almost certainly the same. Besides, if they reproduced rapidly there'd be a lot more dead wooly mammoth skeletons found. Also, you seem to be unaware that human beings and wooly mammoths have coexisted before. We hunted them into extinction, along with the disappearance of their natural cold habitat. It's not like these animals are that foreign to us – they became extinct much more recently than the dinosaurs. Didn't you ever see Ice Age??

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

    This is CRAZY.. there IS a reason GOD saw fit to kill off these animals. Stop playing GOD!! I think this is very dangerous. someone has already said it, but... JUST BECAUSE WE CAN, DOES NOT MEAN WE SHOULD!!!

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

      why hasn't God killed off dumb people? maybe killing off those mammoths 12,000 years ago took a lot out of him. but that was 12,000 years ago. I don't know, God sounds a little lazy if you ask me.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • thatdidntwork

      I agree. Just because Momma and Papa could have you, they shouldn't. Yet here we are....

      January 17, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • MostPeopleAreStupid

      Jacque, you are dead on, brother. Just because you CAN post to this forum doesn't mean that you SHOULD have ...

      January 17, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • conoclast

      A gentleman is defined as a man who can play the accordion, but doesn't. I say clone the mammoth, teach it how to play the accordion, and then watch. If it plays "Lady of Spain" throw it in the dumpster with the religious nuts!

      January 17, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. captainpoops

    I can't wait to see the Wolly Mammoth show in Tijuana.

    January 17, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. steveabams

    Howdo we know that exotic deadly diseases won't be resurrected with these animals? Diseases that might wipe out animal populations,not to mention humans. This is dangerous stuff.

    January 17, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shannon

      We're not resurrecting bacteria and viruses along with the mammoths, lmao. They are their own living organisms. It's not like they would appear out of thin air just because the mammoth exists. Also, humans coexisted with wooly mammoths!

      January 17, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      Are you one of those people that believes that garbage turns into maggots? If we do not clone the ancient bacteria, where would it come from? Did your mom have any kids that paid attention in grade school?

      January 17, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • donald lehmkuhl

      you are an idiot the mother elephant would die before it ever reached humans and im sure they have taken measures to prevent stuff like this but hey what do i know so when you decide to take off your tinfoil hat i will be here willing to have a sane conversation

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

      Any animal cell which has been infected with a virus is almost certainly going to be unfit to grow from that single cell into a new organism because the virus screws it up.

      It is possible, though rare, for a virus to insert its DNA into the host and become part of that species' new normal DNA passed on to its offspring. However, this is not especially dangerous and is already true of almost all living things. That formerly-viral DNA becomes junk and is not a threat.

      There isn't a special risk involved.

      January 17, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jeff with a J

    hmmm. mixed feelings on this. beyond being able to say, "we did it", what are they trying to achieve exactly? the scientific achievement is certainly extraordinary if its successful and i suppose it might give us some insight into certain details regarding the mammoth's physical characteristics, but even then, it will be born from an elephant... we will not be able to study it in its natural habitat so we will also not learn much about its behavior either.

    January 17, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Wellokthen

    Call me when they try a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

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

      how do those two things equate?

      January 17, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. magnus

    the cloning of an extinct animal that became extinct because of Man is a wonderful way to correct our wrong.

    January 17, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
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