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. JIM

    Success would be a major scientific achievement. Best of luck to the team.

    January 17, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dino

    Please please please don't use this technology to clone Barney Frank. (I guess insert joke here)

    January 17, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sally Mae Hunter

    Do they have a barbequed flavor similar to elephants?

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

      Don't know.. I have never tried barbecued elephant.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jeff

    Why not clone something useful, like beautiful blonds who love housework? I'm sure the corporate elites could make a killing selling them at Wal-Mart!

    January 17, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      I had one once but she hated housework.

      January 18, 2011 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  5. Hello!!!!

    Why do so many people here think man had the ability to hunt the mammoths to extinction? First of all, there were probably not enough people alive at that time to completely kill off the mammoths using ancient techniques and spears. Secondly, do all of you that believe man hunted off the mammoths think that it was just a coincident that they died out at exactly the same time that the last ice age ended? Did man hunt Mammoths? Yes. Did they go extinct? Yes. Did man cause the extinction? No.

    January 17, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • jayman419

      Looking at the growth rates and other data from the tusks and fossils of prey species, and examining other factors, it can be determined with some degree of certainty that there were no serious shortages of plant-based foods caused by environmental change. But we see heavy wear and broken teeth as a result of the predators eating bones, something they would not do (and did not do) when meat was more plentiful.

      So if there were plenty of plants, and a previously stable population of herbivores, why were the predators suffering? Almost all of the 51 large herbivore species common in North America during the late Pleistocene went extinct, along with more than half of the large carnivores. That's because as the ice retreated, humans were able to spread their territory, equipped with fire and armed with spears, they began competing for the largest prey species. Humans had another advantage, because they could eat plants themselves when other food was unavailable. The actions of humans were enough to tip a delicate ecosystem out of balance.

      Recently, we've begun killing whales en masse, driving orcas to attack sea otters for food. Less sea otters means more sea urchins... It doesn't take much.

      January 18, 2011 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
  6. Cecil

    Tastes like Brontosaurus but slightly less salty.

    January 17, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. david burns

    You better thank your lucky stars for disco. Stayin' Alive has been chosen by doctors as having the perfect rythm to perform CPR. Liking disco has saved some lives.

    January 17, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Twitweener

    I wonder how much the Mammoth DNA wont forget.

    January 17, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • DisgruntledGrrl

      Bwahahahaaaa! Ok that caught me off guard.
      And yet .. there is a hidden double meaning in what Twit said...

      January 18, 2011 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
  9. Cyrus

    The lack of immaturity found in these comments is as worse as youtube's comments. Jesus Christ people.. if you can't add anything to the discussion just don't comment. |:

    January 17, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arpad101

      They're only joking. Don't you have a sense of humor?

      January 18, 2011 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
  10. BOB G

    What on earth could possibly go wrong? Truly, if they want to help in some way wouldnt if be better to clone an existing species that is close to extinction and has a very rhin gene pool? Like say the Snoe leopard. Hell that might keep it from being the nexf dodo bird. Oh wait, that would be humans.

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

    hey joe, max headroom called them blanks.

    January 18, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  12. William

    Soon we will have a new source for ivory!
    Think of how many ivory billiard balls one could make from those giant tusks!
    The three cushion billiard world waits!

    January 18, 2011 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  13. itsmee

    when its all said and done what does it benefit us? what does it do to help the sick, the poor, the heartbroken, the depressed. the time and money spent results in nothing to help those who dont have hope. selfish and blind

    January 18, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
    • sjenner

      Knowledge is never a waste. It's pursuit never a detriment. You have no idea what positive results this study may produce or how it may benefit those about whom you write. After all, many who have shared your views also argued against the space program, and wouldn't we be poorer for not having that?

      January 18, 2011 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
  14. Dro

    What's wrong with disco? Would love to experience Studio54 in the late 70's!

    January 18, 2011 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  15. EM

    Now this has gotta stop. It's as bad as letting Baby Doc back into Haiti.

    January 18, 2011 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
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