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. lauren winston

    it's so funny–scientist say this or that–no one knows anything for sure other than those that were there...first, they're not going to get a pure bread, and "learn" about them? what in OUR century, interacting with their human friends? hardly real science. totally ridiculous. everyone's pulling out their violins, oooooh poooor woooooley mammmmmoth–are you KIDDING ME? ballad of T REX next? WE didn't do anything to these species–it's called survival of the FITTEST–not like these humans were rocket scientists

    January 17, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      ".first, they're not going to get a pure bread,"
      Exactly. They'll be multi-grain mammoths.

      January 18, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  2. Trixy

    O man, this is a REALLY bad idea. And I don't think it will work,

    January 17, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. justmeanddog

    Immortality may not be that far fetched after all. When memory can be "downloaded" into viable clones we may finally have solved the problem of the speed of light barrier. Travel across thousands or millions of light years will be just a "long" walk in the park.

    January 17, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Steven Brown

    The next step is to clone a Neanderthal and train him to play in the NFL.

    January 17, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • justmeanddog

      Look again I think they already did that.

      January 17, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • EuphoriCrest

      They did: he didn't make the team but twice served as your vice president with GWB.

      January 17, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Justin

    Wow! - If they succeed, the Deomcrats and Republicans will probably fight over which party can adopt this dinosaur as its mascot!

    January 17, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      It will be an Independent.

      January 17, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bee

      Nah. Tea Party, all the way!

      January 18, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Therapist

    I want a clone of the cow that I had a steak from last night, that was the best friggin steak I ever had!!

    January 17, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      Maybe it already was a clone and they did not tell you.

      January 17, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Johnathan Pierce

    No way in Hell is that a good idea. God wanted them to die, let them die. Natural causes made them be alive, natural causes made them die. Keep it that way, its not our job to go resurrecting mammoths and dinosaurs.

    January 17, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • IceT

      But doesn't that also mean then that God give us the ability to clone them?

      January 17, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Paul

    I believe we could learn a lot by cloning a mammoth. If we were able to do such a thing, the technological advances that were made to do it could be applied to many other things, such as cloning animals that are going extinct, today. And, wouldn't it be fun to have a zoo or zoos with herds of mammoths? And wouldn't it be cool to repopulate Canada and the northern great plains with such beasts? Yellow Stone National Park could sure use a few!

    January 17, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • eisener

      No actually, I don't think it would be cool to put mammoths in zoos for us humans to amuse ourselves. I also don't think it would be cool to have them run around on a tundra in a niche of the ecosystem now occupied by other animals depending on the same resources; what will the consequences be for these animals, already pushed by the changing climate of the tundra – a fact. And, just a last question: who are to decide what animals extinct of the past, or the future we are "bringing back, or not"?

      January 17, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. QuietStormX

    I mean, what are they going to do with a mammoth baby and adult. Who did they live? What did they eat, trees and plants right with fruit.

    January 17, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      They ate Purina Mammoth Chow. You can get it in 5-ton bales at the local feed store.

      January 18, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  10. warren

    i bet they are delicious if they were eaten to extinction

    January 17, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      We ate them all.

      January 17, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. i.mold

    All this talk of how it could live, would it be dangerous, how's hilarious, the animal will spend it's whole life in an extremely protected environment tailored to it's needs and comfort, with plenty to eat, nothing to hurt it – herbivore heaven in other words. And it's offspring, if any, will face nothing worse than a zoo – and most of us like zoos. Every zoo with facilities for it will cherish a mammoth. Won't be any Jurassic Park crap, just another addition to the zoo that will thrill future generations. Will be the same for any other extinct animal we might be able to bring back. And if any of them are raised for food, well, would it be that different from raising buffalo burgers?

    January 17, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • eisener

      "and most of us like zoos. "

      So, you have lived in a zoo? I would sure prefer to not ever have that experience.

      ...Now it is ok that humans 're-create' animals so we can be amused in a park or zoo? Wow! What's next? I guess I was naive and though the reason for a zoo is to protect species by educating us about the species .. so that we get to care enough for its habitat and fellow specimen; Not to amuse us all-mighty humans. But, I do see where you are coming from, if the starting point is that humans are superior to other species and can do whatever we feel like in order to amuse ourselves. I guess that is not where I come from as far as my morals on animals or any natural beings, or natural resources for that matter...

      January 17, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |

    How soon till the Mammoth Burger!

    January 17, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      McDonald's food scientists are working on it. A McMammoth, McLongribs and don't forget the fries on the side.

      January 17, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scholarcat

      I am going to pass on the mammoth nuggets.

      January 17, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Frank

    Before posting a comment a person should learn what they are talking about. I suggest Adrian Lister and Paul Bahn's "Mammoths Giants of the Ice Age".

    January 17, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Justin

    Does this mean Ice Age 4 will be a live action film?

    January 17, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jade

    Crap I was hoping for a T-Rex

    January 17, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
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