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. Red

    I wonder what Ian Malcolm would say about this...

    January 17, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Nancy M. B.

    Tastes like chicken?

    January 17, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joseluis

    I hope they succeed it would show the world that with teamwork anything is possible.

    January 17, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Allen

    I really believe CNN got took by a 26 year old April fool's joke. #45

    January 17, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. DanteX


    Once again the arrogance -and idiocy- of Man is as amazing and astonishing as it is disheartening.

    This is just one more bad idea in a long-line of bad ideas throughout the history of Man's pathetic and sordid existence here on Earth.

    To paraphrase the quote the actor -Jeff Goldblum- who played the character of Dr. Ian Malcolm so appropriately uttered in the box-office hit movie "Jurassic Park" :

    "[T]his is [not some] species that was obliterated by deforestation [or] the building of a dam – [Mammoths] had their shot [in the long span of evolutionary time and] Nature selected them for extinction."

    And I am QUITE willing to bet that Nature had pretty good REASON for doing so too.

    EXCEPT for the interference at the hands of Man EXTINCTION happens for a REASON – That is THE REASON WHY EXTINCTION IS FOREVER.

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

      Please tell me you're not in the private sector

      January 17, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff S

      @DanteX You need to do a bit of reading and research. The majority of animal extinctions through out recent history have been at the hands of man.

      Just because you saw a fictional movie on using DNA to recreate extinct dinos doesnt mean it is good scientific source material, or that you should be basing your opinions on it.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ray

      I believe that man selected them for extinction. It is interesting that the extinction of megafauna across the world seemed to follow the introduction of the most invasive species, humans.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Codifex Maximus

      Ray, invite them to watch "What killed the Mega-beasts?" It's a really interesting scientific demo that starts with three hypothesis – Kill, Chill or ILL and works towards a conclusion with evidence.

      January 18, 2011 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
    • JCizzle

      "You need to do a bit of reading and research. The majority of animal extinctions through out recent history have been at the hands of man."

      So what? The percentage of extinctions at the hands of man is negligible. 99% of all species that ever lived were extinct before man was even on this planet.

      January 18, 2011 at 4:51 am | Report abuse |
  6. Meatlover

    Tastes like Condor

    January 17, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Matt


    January 17, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Meatlover

    If these things had Obamacare they would be around today

    January 17, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim armstrong

      yeah alive, but broke in a communist country the united obama states of extinction,

      January 17, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. GAWD

    Everybody thinks that the saying is "every time you m@sterbate god kills a kitten". That's not true, he kills baby mammoths, that's why they went extinct. I say clone him and stop the m@sterbation!

    January 17, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ragu4u

    Just what we need....another species to worry about. Let's care for what we have before we create problems.

    January 17, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ryan

    they better not clonhe dinosaurcesss.

    January 17, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Arpad101

    I'd like to have it as a pet. When and where can I buy one?

    January 17, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dw

      Only problem is the clean up could be a challenge I wonder if they would go out and fetch the paper in the morning

      January 17, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff S

      "The poop is as big as a couch!"

      January 17, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dw

    Well on the plus side of the equation those things have some tusks. Could be good for the piano industry.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      At least it would knock out the rhino business.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. CnW

    What is a mammoth but a hairy elephant? I don't think they are a different species, but simply different families with different alleles for more hair due to climate. My son, who is obsessed with elephants and all things elephants due to autism, will be absolutely thrilled. I won't tell him until they have one because he would get his hopes up to high.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dw

      Yes you are correct. The schick corporation put an end to the mammoth and then the after shave was invented

      January 17, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • JCizzle

      Wow, just wow, I don't even know where to begin with this. It's scary that you procreated.

      January 18, 2011 at 4:53 am | Report abuse |
  15. Big D

    So you are basically going to bring back one animal, study it profusely, and maybe even display it to everyone like a freak show? This is flat out not necessary. The life for this animal will be horrid, unnatural, and undeniably lonely. Elephants and I'd guess mammoths are smart and very social. Your project is just to see " whose got the biggest ****?" among a very tiny group of researchers. Oh my god, you might find results that help you understand why they died in the first place! Glad you chose such an important topic! Your results will be worthless in terms of benefiting society. Hope your egos are stroked by getting your names in papers. To me, you are extremely well trained morons that don't know how to apply your skills. I am going to clone each one of you and then stick you in a cage, probe you with every gadget I can find, and after I learn all I can about your little cloned selves, I am going to put each of you to sleep.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • image42

      Good point – Historically our species seems to act first and think about why later. Sooner or later that approach is going to sneak up and bite us all in the a**.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Extinct

      I think you might want to go back into your academia dreamland and we'll slip pizzas under the door for you – after all I'm sure that's part of Obamacare

      January 17, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe Bill

      People like you are so very, very difficult to understand. You comment is mind numbingly retarded. The mammoth won't have any worse life than any other elephant in captivity (assuming it lives in captivity at all). What makes you stupid though is you are the same idiot who reaps the benefits of research (in this case, in-vitro research) but screams the loudest that some people - unlike you - choose to study and learn and make advancements.


      January 17, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wonkich

      quite true, Big D. it's a lab rat dick contest...

      and hey, Mr Joe Bill, when was the last time u benefited from in-vitro? lol

      January 18, 2011 at 5:45 am | Report abuse |
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