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. Futon Torpedo

    "Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." – Dr. Malcolm – Jurassic Park

    January 17, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. shake em

    i'm thinking wooly mammoth cheese would be splendid.

    January 17, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Funkymonkey1

    Forget the Mammoth. I think they should be focusing their energy on reverse engineering the duck billed platypus. I firmly believe it is the key to understanding God's sense of humor.

    January 17, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. justmeanddog

    Show me a piece of Amber containing some viable T-Rex DNA and I will get excited. Bringing back a few Woolly Mammoths while it will certainly be an achievement will probably yield very little useful info as to how Mammoths actually lived in their World. Correct me if I am wrong but one Mammoth dropped in the middle of the 21st century will be a classic example of the old saying about a “Duck out of water” but not much else. We already have frozen specimens so we know exactly what they looked like. Hell we even know what they “smell” like. Now a T-Rex that is a different case. We don’t even know what color they were or if they had Fur or Feathers. All we really know is they were big and probably would not make good house pets.

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

      What creature would give birth to your ostrich? komodo dragon?

      January 17, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • V Saxena

      You know what would be cool? If they could breed BABY t-rexes that we could have as pets. Ohhh I would have so much fun screwing with the mailman, not to mention the neighbor's annoying pitbull, haha.

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

    I think scientists need to leave certain areas alone. Creating a mammoth is one of these areas. Before you know it they will be creating the T-Rex and all humans will be extinct. People just continue to go to far all the time and cannot leave well enough alone. then when something goes wrong they blame everyone else.

    January 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rationalist

      Hmmm, I don't think so. In terms of time, the Mammoth has not been extinct that long, whereas T-Rex has been extinct for oh about 65 million years. I think you must admit that there is a big difference there. If you think Scientists should not attempt to manipulate things, then don't take an antibiotic the next time you get sick

      January 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Roger Stanton

    I'm not worried about the mammoth being a threat to humans. We drove it into extinction once, we can do it again.

    January 17, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jim

    The same people complaining about playing "god" are the same ones that hamper stem cell research, which could save many lives. No, a microscopic cell is not a baby and also god does not exist. No evidence and there never will be.

    January 17, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sanjosemike

    It is already possible to work withe the eggs of emus to "express" certain physical features, like teeth and a long tail, etc. This is done through genetic manipulation. It has proven extremely effective. I believe there was even a Discovery Channel program on it.

    To my knowledge it worked....completely. A "variant" of a emu was created (eggs only) that had teeth. That's damn close to a real dinosaur folks. And that was just the start. I think they stopped doing it...perhaps by being a little frightened of their own scientific viruosity.

    January 17, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. chris

    Are you kidding?? I think this is amazing! To see a Mammoth resurrected in my lifetime... incredible

    January 17, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Funkymonkey1

      Well not exactly resurrected. That would be kind of like a Zombie Mammoth. But still...

      January 17, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Marc

    The mammoth went extinct for reasons we may never discover, and this seems an awful like playing God. Just as in Jurassic Park, what responsibilities must we assume, when resurrecting an extinct species, when natural selection chose them to go extinct in the first place?

    January 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      Actually Marc, we liked the way they tasted and humans naturally selected them for dinner until they were all gone.

      January 17, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Robc1982

    will it taste good? Can you deep fry it? How long before we see a recipe book?

    Just kidding. I think this is awesome.

    January 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      Short ribs should be good but will that be long ribs?

      January 17, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ronnierage

    if it were not for science and technology we would already be dead from drinking our sewage infested water.

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

    humans have even been cloned by this process, there is nothing out of the ordinary , mamoths and elephants belong to the same family, the change up is selective as would a different father, i would think they would have to grow the new specie off spring and rebreed it by embroy again to come to a closer match of the original, good luck to them in their new experiment,

    January 17, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rastus McGee

    'nother critter to eat ! S'meat! Wonder how they taste!

    January 17, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. freddie

    Just like my mom used to tell me, "you can resurrect a mammoth after you get your chores done." It is a fascinating thing resurrecting a mammoth but it won't get me to work in a car that runs on something other than petroleum products. It won't allow me to use the sun to heat and power my house at a low cost. It won't cure my dads diabetes. It would make a hell of a pet. Just think about the garbage bag you would have to take with you when you took it out for a walk. Better yet skip the garbage bag just follow the careless dog owner who leaves behind droppings in your yard, you can return the favor with interest.

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