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. MeowTV2

    Well, this is what happened with the civilization that predated ours. They brought the things back, then used used antimatter weaponery to get rid of them; that's explain why there is no trace left of either of them... That's my take on it anyway....

    January 17, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. rob

    Then the next movie that will be coming out is "Mammoth's Gone Wild!"

    January 17, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sutler

      I like big tusks and I cannot lie.
      All you other packaderms can't deny....

      January 17, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Marchosias

    This is a mistake...

    January 17, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Haifever

    Wow. This is kind of disturbing in one way if you think about it. Mammoths were huge in comparison to today's elephants and as with most everything in nature, it stands to reason that their offspring scaled with them. Putting a mammoth embryo in an elephant mother that was only a quarter of the size of a mammoth mother would be like putting a killer whale embryo in a dolphin and expect it to be okay. Congratulate yourselves, scientists, when your experiment birth kills the host mother elephant.

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

      Ever hear of a C-Section?
      And its been proven already that a mother can survive giving birth to an enormous baby(s)...just look at Octomom!

      January 17, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ithinkthat

      That and the fact that most mammoths were smaller than african elephants.

      January 17, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Chris

    If we are ever to get off this rock and thus ensure our species truly long term survival in this Universe, science must keep moving forward in all areas. Experiments like this give us the knowledge and tools needed to safeguard ourselves long term. Our genes control so much of who and what we are, to master the power of DNA is to begin to master the power of life itself. It is a dangerous concept in the wrong hands, but will surely benefit mankind if wielded to positive effect.

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

      A dangerous concept indeed, much like the A-bomb).

      Still....this is SO COOL!

      I believe even Mr. Disney is frozen somewhere, in case this very thing happened in the future.

      January 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ward Cleaver

    This is ridiculous!!! How could a mammoth possible be borne to an elephant. Those giant tusks would never fit through the birth canal. People, you gotta think things through more thoroughly.

    January 17, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sutler

      Just like today's elephant calves, mammoth calves, do not have tusks when they are first born.

      January 17, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • T. Lee

      Like "Sutler" observed – such later outgrowth is not presnent in the womb. Consider as a modern example elephant's OWN tusks or the tusks of Warthogs. They in their fully matured state would present the same scenario you propose to modern day birth-mothers. Actually, no offense, your comment seems as not having been well thought out before posting.

      January 17, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • June Cleaver

      Ward, weren't you a little rough on the beaver last night?

      January 17, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ward Cleaver

      June, speaking of last night, where were you? Don't think I didn't notice you sneaking in around 3am.

      January 17, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. T. Lee

    These gigantic creatures had their day, had their "shot", and were "selectively" rendered by nature to go extinct. Man has no idea what door he may be opening (good or bad) in engaging in this kind of "science".

    It would seem that the money being devoted to this and other such projects like it would be better spent on finding cures for those diseases (and/or world hunger, atmospheric problems, etc) to keep US from being "selected" by nature to go extinct too.

    January 17, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      it is their money and the will spend it any way they choose to.

      January 17, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Maurice

    I don NOT believe that their extinction was so much natural as it was artificial, as in being done by man. Didn't WE hunt them to extinction? So in bringing them back, we are only righting a wrong.

    January 17, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • T. Lee

      Not very likely that humans with spears would be able to drive a species like the mammoths to extinction such as modern man can do with firearms, etc.

      January 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. David

    Sutler – why kind of scientific method did you use to drum up your atheistic preconceptions? Obviously none. You unfaith is just as unfounded in reason as any religion. I, for one, would rather "Bet on God". Plus I think Blaise Pascal is a little smarter than you!

    January 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sutler

      So....preferring to "bet on god" as you so put, you would rather spend hours in prayer hoping that your god would spare you of pneumonia, if you were to catch it rather than "bet on science" and seek medical help from a certified "scientist" with medical knowledge?

      I'll keep my bag of marbles in the corner of science!

      January 17, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • UMeat

      David – the burden of proof is on the theists (and there is none). God does exist, but only in your head. Prayers are not answered.

      January 17, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      You're confused as to the proper use of terms. Atheists believe that the possibility of God exists, and if shown the proof they would acknowledge it is true. Agnostics believe that you are freaking nuts and there is no reason to entertain the silly notion what so ever. I would be Agnostic, thank you very much, Your pie in the sky nonsense is wishful thinking to the highest degree. And the burden of proof is not on me, I could care less what you believe. I choose what I believe by my own free will, you believe what you do because you were told to by your parents and never questioned it. It has been proven that Atheists and Agnostics know more about religion than any other group, proving the more you know the less you believe,

      January 17, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dave meccariello

    For those who complain about science, remember this... without science, your life expectancy would be about 30, your parents were dead by the time you were 15, and you would have already had a number of kids who didnt survive childhood... not to mention their mother who likely wouldnt have survived childbirth. I am all for religion and faith, but God gave us minds that could think of science. RIse!!! BIG WOOLSY!!! RISE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. tight fit

    they aint born with tusks you neandrathal.

    January 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • youwanttokno

      I say we clone the neanderthals back to life.

      January 17, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ward Cleaver

      Good one tightie

      January 17, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      Neanderthals never died out, we interbred with them and their DNA exists today in our own... Redheads have a dominant Neanderthal gene.

      January 17, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Patrick

    I'll have the McMammoth burger, hold the onions, with fries, please.

    January 17, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sutler

      Can I get mine supersized?

      January 17, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • youwanttokno

      Aren't you tired of eating man-made meat know the beef that comes from a calf that becomes from a sperm and egg to a full blown bull in just two weeks, thanks to hormones.?

      January 17, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. cel

    because scientific research is supported by grants from the military, big business and philanthropists who hope to gain from the knowledge acquired, I'd have to say the reason this is being done is for military and financial gains. In other words, CAPITALISM.

    January 17, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      In Russia? interesting....

      January 17, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MistaJ

    Guys, and gals, do not fret, it is simply a large furry elephant. We don't have start worrying until they move onto large carnivores. For goodness sakes, it is extinct because it couldn't even survive in their time period, let alone expect them to go to the top of the food chain on ours.

    January 17, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mehmet

    its fantastic !!!!!!!!!!!!! I also want to see "tyrannosaurus rex"

    January 17, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
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