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. TulsaTrav

    Why stop there..Why not a TRex, or, Raptors, or even Hitler or Sadam.

    January 17, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • AfromM

      Right because the only difference between a T-Rex and Hitler is the mustache. Please.

      January 17, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Last_Warrior

      I would take a clone of a T-rex over a clone of Hitler any day

      January 17, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • janie

      Your honestly comparing a a baby mammoth to hitler. What a completely idiotic thing to say. Once again another half brained idiot has made a complete fool out of himself.

      January 20, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. drivindurty

    You know they did it already.

    January 17, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Colin

    Yet another example of science pushing the ignorance of religion off the world stage. How many times have you heard a theist say "but only [my particular] god can create life". Well, what now?

    January 17, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • k5150

      They aren't creating they are copying.

      January 17, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Colin

      @k5150. Before science does its work, there is no mammoth. Afterwards, there is a mammoth. That's creating. Copying is taking pre-existing work, adding nothing and claiming it as one's own. Like the Bible did with the myths of the virgin birth, Noah's flood, Adam and eve and about a dozen other supposedly original Christian stories.

      January 17, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • nepawoods

      Not arguing for theism here, but I wouldn't call this "creating life" any more than I'd call an ordinary act of procreation "creating life".

      January 17, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • nepawoods

      @Colin: "Before science does its work, there is no mammoth. Afterwards, there is a mammoth." ... Same can be said of ordinary human procreation and a baby. So why site possible future cloning of a mammoth as a counterexample to "only God can create life", when we have everyday, ordinary things today that are just as much counterexamples?

      January 17, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • wooly bully

      you're missing the main ingredient for this cloning: the original mammoth, which man had no part of creating, and without which this process would be impossible. true creation would be to develop the dna from scratch and going from there. maybe that will be done some day, but not in this instance.

      January 17, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerome Haltom

      I wonder if the mammoth will sue it's creators for copyright infringement.

      January 17, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Realist

    just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

    January 17, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JB

    Did anyone not learn from Jurassic Park? "just because we can, doesn't mean we should"

    January 17, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Did we not learn from a completely fictional movie imagined by Hollywood effects artists and writers?????? No, I guess we decided to get our facts from scientific journals.....

      January 17, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Devin

      @ Chris

      So, we aren't to take any decent and common sense lessons from a Holy Book that is centuries old, we aren't supposed to take any common sense lessons even from modern day, but we are just supposed to recreate history willy-nilly because you think it's fascinating.

      January 17, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frankpal

      The "Holy" book you refer to claims the world was created 5000 (or so) years AFTER the mammoths got extinct (let alone created). I think it is fair to assume that disqualifies the "Holy" book from having an authorative opinion on the future fate of the mammoth.

      February 21, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Anothermuse

    Ok, I'm not usually a tree hugger of any type, but to create something like a mammoth, who's only purpose in life will be a lab rat? Not feeling great with that. This isn't a guinnea pig, it's an elephant with a huge brain that could live 30 years or more...

    January 17, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lilarose in Oregon

      Don't bring your anti-"tree hugger" mentality to my state, please! You will be run outta town! We love our trees and that is why Oregon is at the top nationally with its conservationist mindset. Many people I talk with from other parts of the U.S. tell me how much they admire Oregon for its environmental concerns.

      January 17, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. k5150


    January 17, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sutler

      The solution to global warming....rather than bottlenecks on teh freeways with carbon emitting internal-combustion engines, and the fact that electric cars are too expensive for most middle-class Americans, why not clock the roads with Mammoths?! Plus you are investing in the future by generating new jobs world-wide: manufacturers of Mammoth Hitching posts, feeding centers, and cleanup crews on the highways!

      Life is Good when you travel Mammoth-rails!

      January 17, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SG

    "It starts with Oohs and Ahhs, but then there's running and screaming..."

    January 17, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Moronic Park


      January 17, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • janie

      From a mammoth? Being just a tad bit over dramatic arent we?

      January 20, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Holdupaminute

    Science. Moving. Forward.

    January 17, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sutler

    Mexico has lined up a new event for 2020...The Running of the Mammoths!

    January 17, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. clos

    They already clonned dinosaurs except something went wrong. One came out purple and sings and the other one is yellow and talks like a baby. Oh and there's a green one that is not into female dinosaurs yet – i think its a gay dinosaur. I can't remember his name but i think its Barneysorous Rex.

    January 17, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jefford1

    yes they prob, already did it,

    January 17, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bob

    Bloody shame we have to resort to cloning, but that is the ony practical way we are going to save many of the earth's species as humans suck up more and more land and resources. Just put their DNA in a bottle in a shelf and make a few anytime someone gets the bug to see any particular animal. By the same token, why not bring back some "extinct" species. We never know what we're gonna learn and they'll just end up in zoos anyway.

    January 17, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kim

    This is so awesome! I hope they are successful, because it would really be amazing to see.

    January 17, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. David

    When man starts playing God, the end is near. Science may have an abundance of knowledge, but the human race is definitely lacking the corresponding amount of wisdom to employ it correctly.

    January 17, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sutler

      It was mankind, and their fear of what happens after death, that they created God in their mind. Religious persons are the ones who lack true wisdom, as they have been conned into the all-time greatest prank ever pulled: believing that there is a god out there.

      January 17, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • UMeat

      Man created god in his image.

      January 17, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blaqb0x

      As Craig Venter said..."We're not playing."

      January 17, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • youwanttokno

      It's people like you who chase away people from God.

      January 17, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • sonofgadfly

      I guess mankind playing God was what caused the world to end all those other times...

      January 17, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sutler

      Nope, I think you are thinking of gravity and its pull on smaller objects in space relaitve to Earth, and the unfortunate event that one of those objects was travelling a bit too close to the gavitational pull of the Earth and thereby crashing into its surface, and thus causing a drastic shift in life. *breath* Phew, that was a longwinded run-on 😛

      January 17, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ithinkthat

      Weren't we playing God when we invented A/C? Oooohh climate control, the end is nigh!

      January 17, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
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