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. Valerie Garcia

    Why should that one unlucky African elephant have to be subjected to this? Elephants are highly intelligent and emotional creatures. Do you think it wants to have some b@st@rd hybrid monster-child? And I'm positive whatever is birthed by the mother will be ripped away and dissected. Very UNhumane and too high a cost, even if done in the name of "SCIENCE".

    January 18, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Muneeb

      Fair enough, but they'd probably observe it for a little while. Anyway it's not even going to be a true clone. Perhaps they should just wait until technology advances instead of exhausting the limited resources they have.

      But you're right the poor thing will end up dead, and it's a toss-up as to what will kill it first; the tests they'll be running on it or complications from being cloned. In fact, who's to say that the surrogate mother won't die as well?

      Do some research and you'll find out that cloning technology isn't too advanced. There is a high percentage of cloned organisms that die much earlier than they should due to complications.

      January 18, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  2. jay

    Cool! I hope some day we can hunt and kill them. Better yet, have them for wait, wear their skins. Cross them with a bird so they can fly. WEEEEEE

    January 18, 2011 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • dawn

      That's funny. Seriously, though, can you imagine the wingspan that would be necessary for a mammoth to fly!?!? I'd hate to have to drag something so big around when I wasn't in flight.

      January 18, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Damien

      Wait, you've seen a buffalo right? Their wings are tiny, must be powerful though. While we are at it, why not a three way? Take the Mammoth, bird, and add a little rattlesnake too!!! Better still, all three of those plus the black widow!! Then throw in a little dolphin or ape, that way they can begin to take over the world 😀 What the hell are we doing? I mean, science is one thing, but we are starting down a road where the risks we are willing to take are unimaginable. Let's hope we know what we are doing...

      January 18, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  3. Testicus

    everyone who appears "worried" about this can rest assured... a clone is still an individual, just copied. so to Gale who commented previously, a "clone" of your dead relatives would NOT be them, they would simply "look" like them. aside from all the moral issues for even doing so in the 1st place, a clone of your father would not BE your father. that new, cloned person would have no idea who you are... until you told them. as for the purpose of cloning people, i can see none other than for the harvesting of perfect organs for the rest of us... i think a clone of me would be great to have handy should i require a transplanted whatever. and no rejection medication! cool beans 😉

    January 18, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
    • nunya

      Or until it asserts it basic human rights and, being a superior specimen in theory and reality, moves that you be the donor and takes all you have including your life. When all the super-humans are running around ruling us, I hope you are the first to be trampled.

      January 18, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Anticlone

      Yeah, great for you but not for your clone, who will be an individual person with inalienable rights...maybe he should use YOU as an "organ bank" for his own immortality...Watch what you wish for.

      January 18, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Gale

      @ Testicus I know it will not be my Dad that is the whole point of saying I would not want something like that to happen down the road. Why can't people let dead things rest? It would be crazy having all dead look a likes walking here on earth just for our benefit. I think that is pretty greedy if you ask me. We are all born and we all die and if I die leave me to be for God's sake!

      January 19, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  4. RonC

    Science, "we can, therefore we will". The human race is killing off the elephant and condemn to zoos around the world. Some taken care of poorly as performers and the like. Yet science sees fit to resurrect a species just to put in a zoo and keep as a curiosity. Shame on their heads. Why not direct our talents to make room for the species that are here?

    January 18, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  5. Summer819

    Why exactly? Just so they can say they did it? And who is going to have to live with the repercussions of it should (and it probably will) go wrong? Say this creature is born and wreaks havoc...then what? It went extinct for a reason. Do we really need to clone one and watch it die off to study why it went extinct in the first place? Why subject an animal to possible pain or suffering (should it die off from reasons it did years ago) just so scientists can get their rocks off? If they can't figure out the life cycle and what happened to the mammoths by what they've found so far...then maybe they just weren't meant to.

    I'm all for studying and trying to understand life on earth over time...but this seems wreckless at best.

    January 18, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. PETA PeopleEatingTastyAnimals

    So, I wonder what a Mammoth burger would taste like... or hunting a wild Mammoth... But as others stated, this is more likely to be a hybrid than a true clone.

    January 18, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Dusto

      People have already eaten mammoth steaks made from frozen meat. Though I imagine it had some serious freezer burn 😛

      January 18, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  7. Richie

    That is so cool! Thumbs up for science!

    January 18, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  8. KarmaPolice

    So I guess these scientists have never read/seen Jurassic Park...

    January 18, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  9. Philip

    I think this is very cool! If it is possible to do, then it should be done!

    January 18, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. Troy from S'port

    I want to go to Kinki University....sounds like fun!

    January 18, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Arjuna

      It's the guy from Kinki University who is going to impregnate the elephant. That is just way too kinki for me !

      January 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Josh

    Personally the mammoth is one of my favorite pre-historic creatures so I would love to see a hybrid Mammoth.

    January 18, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  12. Burger King

    We say "Do it"! We need the meat.

    January 18, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  13. Someone

    Everyone here are buzz kills. This is very exciting. What ever happens, happens. Everything that happens is just the natural course of things. what humans do from buildings and cars to pollution are all natural.

    January 18, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • nunya

      Sure they are, remember that when you vote to have your neighbors SUV banned, or his diet, or smoking habits. Its all natural baby:)

      January 18, 2011 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Someone


      January 18, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  14. nunya

    This is how most sci-fi horror stories begin. I pray for our childrens future. Just because we can doe not mean we should. It all starts with good intentions, (like splitting the atom) and ends up well, just look around people. Soon, labs in Thailand will be pooping out extinct animals for carnivals and zoos. Then, one developes a disease not seen since it lived naturallyon the planet, no other lifeform can handle said disease, and were all gone. Feasible, logical, and a very real possibility. But, do not let that stop you from the feel-good we are so smart acts, hopefully the fallout, good or bad, only effects you and your kids.

    January 18, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  15. matisse

    Today a mammoth, tomorrow a mummy! comes King Tut!

    January 18, 2011 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
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