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. Terry Hewitt

    If they actually had a substantial chance of making this happen, they would not have announced it untill after the mammoth was born. Words are cheap. I believe its nothing but a publicity stunt. We will not see a live woolley mammoth in 6 years.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe Bill

      I think you are spot-on. People float this stuff out all the time but it never materializes... and conversely, some wild stuff happens all the time (like the unprecedented flooding Down Under) and no one ever steps up and says, "See! I told you it was gonna flood!"

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

      Wooly Mammoths will be this years Vaporware. Talked about but never seen. I'm sure there's already a promotional video on youtube.

      January 18, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. John Zurek

    t would be an amazing accomphishment. One species that brings back another species after extinction. Great stuff.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. sharky

    One word:


    January 17, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. deecnn

    I am worried about the African elephant that will give birth to the mammoth. The physical (injections, megasize delivery etc) and mental pain (separation etc).

    January 17, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dino

      Not to worry – I already heard they have a safety fund set up with education trust for the kids plus all the peanuts and hay you can eat.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John

    I wonder what made them choose the mammoth?

    January 17, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim armstrong

      uhhh, probably because they were there at the time, in the frozen tundra, please LearnToRead, its funnnnndamental

      January 17, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Codifex Maximus

      Ever hear of a movie called Ice Age? It's a recognizable and popular creature sure to cause a stir.

      January 18, 2011 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
  6. Sal Monella

    Wooly Bully!!!!

    January 17, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Olrik

    This is wonderful news for all of humanity! Viable T-Rex DNA has also been obtained from within fossilized bones (seriously). Soon we will be able to enjoy epic Mammoth vs T-Rex gladitorial events!

    January 17, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tony

    Why don't these teams of scientists work to find cures for diseases that kill humans? Oh yeah, no money in tthat.

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

      What an insanely idiotic question. Because not every scientist is in the field of medicine.

      January 18, 2011 at 4:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      Are you really serious right now? Like, for real.. So, you think that there's no money in medicine? The pharmaceutical industry is the most profitable industry in the world. I usually don't do the whole personal attacks thing on here, but you are completely ignorant.

      January 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Arpad101

    This can definitely solve our food shortage problem and provide more than enough clothing.

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

      Screw the food "problem". What if these things could be processed into gas. Tell the Arabs to pound sand – pun intended.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      Dino, don't tell them that, you are only giving them ideas.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. karma

    Does that mean they could clone sarah palin? Awwwwwwwwww but then again she believes we walked with dinosaurs LOL what a numb skull. Do I hear Narcissistic personality disorder anyone?

    January 17, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Boinking Bill

    This has already been done a while ago. Just look at Janet Reno or Madeleine Albright.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mamanila

    'd prefer that they put their time and energy to better use and work on cloning Derek Jeter!

    January 17, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mikey

    That's absolutely freakin' awesome!

    Next up, Ronald Reagan part two!!

    January 17, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Man DeLorean

    I'm usually one to try to think about the broader implications of things, but in this case I just don't see what others are seeing. Mammoths were here. Now they're extinct. Life went on before; it will go on whether scientists are successful at cloning one or not. The whole argument about "natural causes" is a non-issue as well; humans are a species on this planet too. Some species become extinct because of us; others in spite of our best efforts. It's all nature, and we're a part of it, not above it. Whether mammoths were hunted to extinction by our ancestors or by saber-toothed tigers has no bearing on whether or not we could or should bring them back. If we can clone them, we should. It could advance our knowledge and give us a chance to study history in a way we couldn't otherwise. All of the rest of these so-called "arguments" are much ado about nothing.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      The ramifications of this are quite awesome and this is only the beginning.

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

      I think the biggest thing people are worried about here is not the mammoth, but the things this technology could lead to if it's allowed and gets out of hand. Either way I'm probably for it.

      January 18, 2011 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
  15. Sir Osis of Liver

    Well, I haven't heard anyone mention UFO's yet, but comments mentioning the Bible, Elvis, Mc Donalds, Republicans, Democrats, cartoons and most other areas of urban legend, Americana and anything people want to rant about are here, whether they are relevant to the question or not! And all from a proposed scientific experiment! Keep it up, people! This is what I call entertainment!

    January 17, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      They are only joking and not ranting. Don't you have a sense of humor?

      January 17, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • couldubanydumber?

      Of course he has a sense of humor. Look at his moniker!

      January 17, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      A friend of mine had a boat called Cirrhosis of the River.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
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