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. paul

    where have you gone Tommy Seebach a nation turns it's lonely eyes on you again..

    January 17, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. paul

    spend manpower and research years on cloning one extinct creature, while dozens of species that are actually important to our ecosystem are disappearing everyday. are you readers that dumb that you really believe scientists are going to clone a herd of mammoth and drop them in pennsylvania?

    January 17, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bee

      Actually, we were hoping to dump them in YOUR yard, Paul! Unless, of course, you live in Pennsylvania, in which case, we'll go with your original suggestion.

      January 18, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. DF

    This is a genius idea; next lets clone dinosaurs and let them loose on the middle east, it'll save troops!

    January 17, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Emigdio

    They should clone MJ and bring him back, but program his brain so he will always stay in the 80's.

    January 17, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Acaraho

    What I've found out is that there are many ignorant people posting here who have no idea what good this scientific study will have for all species on Earth. It's a shame that so many of you seem to think this is either a joke or the wrong thing to do. I would imagine that many of you if you had lived during past centuries would have ridiculed the Wright Brothers, Marconi, Galileo, Bell, da Vinci, Edison, and even Christ Himself.

    January 17, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trevor

      Acaraho...thanks for posting the most intelligent response here. It's really frightening to witness just how ignorant the general (misinformed) public is when it comes to understanding the scientific process and the proper way to conduct research.

      January 17, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • eisener

      I completely disagree with you. And I dare to say I am not less intelligent or more ignorant than you. Let's start with two questions for you to answer: 1) Is this being done in order that we can have captive mammoths for us to study; if so, is this moral? 2) If your answer to my first question is that no, the mammoths are to live not in captive (which anyone arguing that this has anything to do with possibly adjusting for other species about to go extinct likely is to say I assume) – it is absolutely necessary to consider the consequences for the ecosystem that would be that of a mammoth today; what other animals occupy this niche now? How will they be affected both as far as space and other resources? How will the human cultures of this niche be affected? Both ethno- and biodiversity has to be considered here - Which brings me to: who and what overviews this and deals with any consequences? Because science can – does not equal that it is necessarily the right thing to do. No doubt we humans have mustered to gather that from our history on earth, so far!?

      January 17, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. hfjkhsd


    January 17, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. IceT

    Sure am glad they're cloning an "extinct" Mammoth rather than the other kind...

    January 17, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      Ahhh this added some much needed laughter to my day. Thanks

      January 17, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. GM

    And you thought bovine flatulence was a problem ...

    January 17, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Religious Sects

    I could swear I heard they were doing this back in the 90's, around the time of Dolly the sheep.

    January 17, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • L

      This was raised as a possibility at the time, but perhaps they are actually getting to do it now.

      January 17, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sage

    This will only be a cross breed Mammoth, not a pure breed, so they will still be unable to study a Mammoth, they will only be studying a Mammoth/African mix.

    January 17, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerome Haltom

      How will it be a cross breed?

      January 17, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • IceT

      Sage is exactly correct.
      The article states: "DNA from a mammoth carcass that has been preserved in a Russian laboratory and insert it into the egg cells of an African elephant."

      January 17, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • DR

      So if it's not a purebred it can't be shown at Westminster? Bummer.

      January 17, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • tellsons

      A cross? The process of inserting DNA into another species' egg cell has nothing to do with crossing genetic material. The researchers would ostensibly REPLACE the DNA of the elephant cell with the DNA of the mammoth cell just like they do with clones. Dolly wasn't a cross, she was a clone.

      January 17, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • BADGUY

      Implanting the embryo (developed through cloning) does NOT mean the baby mamouth would be a "mix". The baby would be an exact copy of the original, that died 10,000+ years ago. Very exciting. Hopefully they are successful!

      January 17, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • WiseGuy

      The clone will be a genetic copy of the corpse they have on ice in Russia. The DNA from the elephant inside the egg is replaced with DNA from the mammoth, no cross species fertilization is required yo!

      January 17, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Boater

    Juassic Park, here we come!

    January 17, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bee

      ~yawn~ Oh, how original. I've only read this identical post from the last 4 pages about 75 times. ~yawn, again~

      January 18, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. producerman

    Uhhh, wasn't this in a bunch of Jurassic Park movies... Seem that the outcome was not to good

    January 17, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lonnie

    Oh Please Please Please hurry and do this. I WANT TO GO MAMMOTH HUNTING!!!!!!!! Opps, peed a little there , but it is OKAY. Just bring us the woolly mammoths guys, this is the smashing greatest idea EVER!!!!!

    January 17, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sandor Johnson

    I am all for this. We so greedily and carelessly wiped out so many species of animals on this planet – that because of our actions, will never grace God's green Earth again. If we have the science to bring the extinct ones back from the dead – I say GO FOR IT!!!

    January 17, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Wisdom4u2


    January 17, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
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