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. Ron

    This is great. To get a 99% true mammoth, you have to do multiple breeds over time. Also, babies are not born with prehistoric diseases, and global warming is real, but will get to the point of bringing on another mini-glaciation by changing ocean currents.

    January 17, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Gibbs47355

    There's a reason animals become extinct. Do you really want to fool with Mother Nature?

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

      Like we don't already?

      January 17, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Scholarcat

    What about cloning Fred, Wilma, Barney, Betty? I'm sure Wilma could give you a sample of Barney's DNA.

    Oh yes I did!

    January 17, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Upwinger

    If science can ressurect a wholly mamouth from DNA nuclei, in four years, then science will surely be able to resuscitate a human being who has been frozen using a cryoprtectorate i.e. cryonics will work! Probably time to check it out.

    January 17, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. hungry

    I can't wait to eat a McMammoth!

    January 17, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jack

    Can't cure a cold.

    January 17, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. 1funbaby

    I agree with Jim Bowman. He should be first!

    January 17, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kneel Before Zod

    Cool!!! We have become gods!!! We can split the atom, travel into space, and now resurect the dead by creating life. I am going to have a temple built to myself so all can come and worship me. If I can't attrack any followers, I can always clone some. OH BRAVE NEW WORLD!!!

    January 17, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. vikingslost

    I think cloning a Mammoth would be a great idea and maybe, just maybe, we could do some reality tv show with Sarah Palin camping out, trying to take pictures of it. At least that would keep Palin occupied and thus missing any of the campaigning for 2012. Rats! They said six years to clone.

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

    What for, so the Indians could wipe them out all over again?

    January 17, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bee

      You forget. The U.S. Government wiped out all the Indians so us White Folks could steal their land. First we have to bring back the Wooly Mammoth and then we can bring back the extinct Indians that our greed and smallpox wiped out.

      January 18, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Buddy

    I'm good as long as they don't try to bring back disco.

    January 17, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jonathan


      January 17, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Buddy...agreed although "stay'n alive" by the bee gees would be apropos in this case

      January 17, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • No disco

      Or bell bottoms.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • BrewCrew

      Buddy you win the post of the day award.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kev

      HEAR HEAR!

      January 17, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • dorsano

      lol – thanks, buddy – thanks you all for the smiles 🙂

      January 18, 2011 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      I hope they successfully clone it and all you religious freaks go commit suicide

      January 18, 2011 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |
    • EM

      lol, good one!

      January 18, 2011 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
    • WillM

      This one made my day! Good one!

      January 18, 2011 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
    • LBCG

      Made me laugh, great way to end the day.

      January 18, 2011 at 2:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Rhys Matthew Gacasan

      Can they clone Lucifer??

      January 18, 2011 at 4:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Fabio


      January 18, 2011 at 5:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Wingman21

      Can't these guys work on something better? The just got done with Wingman Pheromones, now look at them.

      January 18, 2011 at 6:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Charlie


      January 18, 2011 at 6:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      I do not think that this will work.

      January 18, 2011 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
  12. scranton

    This is a slippery slope we are approaching. Later will neanderthals be cloned for slave labor? Just saying.....

    January 17, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      No, they will replace politicians

      January 17, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Well we have tons of slave labor now. It is called the middle class.

      January 17, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Pathetically alarmist of you Brian, wouldn't you say? If the middle class was the new slave class, what do you call the lower class, working class, and all those even poorer who are struggling below the poverty line?

      January 17, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • MURDER

      Now that is good Brian.

      January 17, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jimmie


      January 17, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cecil

      That would be cooler yet but very improbable unless one is frozen in the tundra.

      January 17, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sardene

      Joe, you call them the middle class who ran out of money on their credit card. 😉

      January 17, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • karalyn Leviton

      What a stupid comment.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian R

      yeah, they're called mexicans

      January 17, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2goodhands

      We call them "illegals". And we don't care about them – really.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • t party

      No I am happy with my mex-icant ill-egals

      January 17, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • JJ

      Joe, are you implying the middle class doesn't work?

      January 17, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      The real slaves are the north korean people

      equating the middle class in a free country to slavery is inaccurate and lacks global prospective.

      hell, poverty in the US is great compared to the rest of the world. don't believe me, count the people who risk life and limb to get here, its in the millions.

      January 18, 2011 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
    • meh

      I get so annoyed at people who write, "just sayin...". tool.

      January 18, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Daveak47

      Or they can clone famous celeb. Salma Hayek or Natalie Portman.

      Think about it. It won't be such a bad thing.

      January 18, 2011 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Slave Cloning

      Speaking of cloning people for slaves? Chinese, Vietnamese, North Korea, Cuba and Russia have done that for years.
      Wondering why you got dirt-cheap prices for Chinese products?

      January 18, 2011 at 1:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      THey will not be slaves, Geico will hire them as Representatives

      January 18, 2011 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
  13. P-lo

    "God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs...Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth..."

    Had to post it.

    January 17, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • kyle

      love it

      January 17, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      More like man created God.

      January 17, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • B

      P-Lo – that's good.
      Frank – hit the nail on the head

      January 17, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jonathan

      taken right from jurassic park. word for word... chaos theory owns you

      January 17, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • nepawoods

      What if there's a fly in the lab when they do this, and it leaves some DNA that mixes with the mammoth DNA, and ...

      January 17, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • R.Johnson

      Great line from a great movie ~ but a lesson not learned apparently!

      January 17, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • t party

      P-Lo Man evolves from primates man creates imaginary Gods, man resurects dinasours, dinasours replace Dogs as mans best friend.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rigel54

      Dinosaurs are just big animals, no harder to manage or destroy than any other, given adjustments for scale. No biggie (pun intended).

      January 17, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Because Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan have all proven that men are responsible for all the wrongs in the world? Do you remember the pettiness and the shallowness of high school girl drama? I know it's a quote from a movie, but still...

      January 18, 2011 at 1:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Bubby

      Ummm... No folks... it's more like... Man destroys himself trying to be God...
      Man wants to be God soooo bad that he is always willing to take huge risks on things that he has an infantile understanding of regardless of the always retrospective "ooops factor" ! Hey.... if an unstable atom contains the energy of a nuclear explosion... just imagine the energy contained in a stable one... lets split one of those puppies and set off a chain reaction just for kicks...

      The inexplicable equilibrium-like balance between strong and weak nuclear forces etc. allowing for small changes yet preserving the larger integrity of existence thereby preventing Chaos and utter destruction is likely NOT coincidence...

      January 18, 2011 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
  14. Al Bundy

    I bet these things taste great! Let's clone them BUT we have to do it on an isolated island where we keep them in cages, feed them according to a schedule, and scientifically study them.... oh wait. That was on the Simpsons. Next idea!

    January 17, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • SpottedOwlStew

      I am of the opinion,
      that the most delicious animals, are extinct.
      Just Human Nature.
      Before regulation.
      Ummm...good tasting meat..kill it...cook it...

      January 17, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • chris

      Agreed! I can't wait to get those huge ribs just like Fred Flintstone used to eat.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dw

      Oh boy now we'll have Ted turner farming these things for ted's Montana mammoth grill

      January 17, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Codifex Maximus

      Seeing as how all the big Pleistocene creatures disappeared just as man appeared in their habitat, they probably DID taste good. Heck, we're STILL doing it today!

      January 17, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Codifex Maximus

      I can't wait till they clone the Moa. There's alot of hungry Maoris waiting. 🙂

      January 17, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • meh

      Great point. Why not clone dodo birds? I heard they make turkey taste like crap compared to their sweet succulent dodo meat.

      January 18, 2011 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Stephen

      Mmmm – mammoth burgers...

      January 18, 2011 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
  15. Hipkat13

    Nature (not man) selected this species for extinction... instead of asking themselves if they can do this maybe these scientists should ask themselves if they SHOULD be doing this. Perhaps they should try to save the species that are already on this plant and need help now, not species that have been dead for tens of thousands of years.

    January 17, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      There is a very good chance that humans killed of the Mammoths in North America. They disappeared from North America not so long after the "Indians" walked over that land bridge from Asia. They were likely easy to hunt and slow to reproduce.

      January 17, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      The mammoth did not play nice with man so we hunted it to extinction. We brought back the wolf, why not the mammoth? 😉

      January 17, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      You worry too much. They're not much bigger than a normal elephant, and they're no velociraptor. There would be little chance of it 'escaping and multiplying'. I say don't worry, watch the Mammoth!

      January 17, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • oldguy

      First of all, it's unethical to burden an African elephant with a pregnancy not of its own making. Second, How will the African's immune system react to an embryo of another species? It's a little like 'Rosemary's Baby' wouldn't you say? If the African's body accepts it at all, there might be a mismatch in gestation periods and fetal nutritional needs between the two that the African cannot accommodate.

      January 17, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dieter

      You need to get out more. It looks like early humans had a big hand in the extinction of mammoths and mastodons.

      January 17, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • standingwave

      How can you determine the fate of this animal when those who've studied it are unsure? Oh wait,those are just "elites" tryin' to keep real Americans down.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      Dinosaurs were probably hunted to extinction by man. Why else would there be legends of dragons and dragon slayers in almost every world culture, from China to American Indians.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Extinct

      Don I see you have a good handle on life and very lucid thoughts. Let's party dude

      January 17, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • dalis

      Don, the dragon stories explained the FOSSILS of dinosaurs to ancient people, not living dinosaurs.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Codifex Maximus

      oldguy, not to mention the DNA from the Mammot is missing nearly 10,000 years worth of resistance to disease.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Codifex Maximus

      Don, dragons? Ever notice there are no indigenous wild alligators or crocodiles in Europe? THEY were the dragons. Picture this: People used to have to fetch water because there was little running water during the Middle Ages. Most cities did not have aqueducts so the children fetched the water. Child goes down to the river, stream, pond or lake to fetch the water and is taken by a crocodilian. Guys with weapons then hunt the croc and kill it. We are fascinated by such tales – even today.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      "Perhaps they should try to save the species that are already on this plant and need help now, not species that have been dead for tens of thousands of years."
      Final extinction was much more recent than "tens of thousands of years" ago. As summarized in Wikipedia [citations omitted]:

      "Until recently, it was generally assumed that the last woolly mammoths vanished from Europe and southern Siberia about 10,000 BC, but new findings show that some were still present there about 8000 BC. Only slightly later, the woolly mammoths also disappeared from continental northern Siberia. A small population survived on St. Paul Island, Alaska, up until 3,750 BC, and the small mammoths of Wrangel Island survived until 1,650 BC."

      The mammoth population on Wrangel Island became dwarfed in a process well known to evolutionary biologists. They stood about chest high. My partner spins and knits (alpaca, sheep, dog, etc.), and mammoth wool must be spectacular fiber. It would be great to have a herd of dwarf mammoths for fiber, meat, transportation, and motive power. Teach the kids on the farm responsibility: "Jessica, its your turn to groom Muffel, her coat is getting tangled again." "No its not, daddy. I'm braiding dreadlocks in for our 4-H parade at the county fair." Yes, cloning mammoths could mean the rebirth of the nuclear family! Imagine the opportunities for resurrecting all of those great old TV shows like "Rin-Tin-Tuskie" and "Mammoth Come Home!" It warms my heart just to think about it. Well, dinners ready. Gotta go now. We're having fried Mammoth Tongue again.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
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