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. patrick

    Wow CNN thats a huge story, infact what a Mammoth

    January 19, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  2. noel

    Hmmm, and all this time we've had venison available. Alas, too many anti gun/hunter folks out there will never understand the value of good, lean meat. As for the mammoth, I hear it tastes somewhere between a Kimodo Dragon and a Bald Eagle ;>) btw-Raising only one mammoth would be a huge mistake. They lived in clans and had quite the social network. One mammoth would likely go crazy w/out a support network of some type. Perhaps other elephants. Man, can you imagine the size of the jacket they'll need for those suckkers? LOL!!!
    "Gun control means hitting your target!"
    RAL 98

    January 19, 2011 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • mike

      should we get it a facebook account

      January 20, 2011 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
  3. Fran

    I say we clone it and then immediately after it's born, cut it in half and count the rings to determine it's actual age. I'm saying they don't look a day over 11,000 years old so I doubt the whole 12,000 year old theory......

    January 19, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  4. palintwit

    Can you imagine cloning Sarah Palin and creating hordes of Palins ?

    January 19, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Tiny

      that is one scarry Idea

      January 21, 2011 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  5. Laura

    Um, aren't they extinct for a reason? Poor little guy, no other mammoth on earth to keep him company. I'm sure he'll be well looked after because these brilliant scientists know EXACTLY what a mammoth needs to survive, comfortably, in this world. Sheesh. Brilliant.

    January 19, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • hehe


      January 23, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boonee

      Laura, that's kinda the point of cloning the mammoth. It's to find out what their habits are like and what kind of food they can thrive on. C'mon. You're better than that.

      January 26, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. E.Mack

    George Z. has obviously been living in the past, and has never been off of the front porch. Wow.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sonotso

    And what if these creatures became extinct due to a now dormant disease which will be unleashed on the world by the scientists; oops will be a little inadequate.

    January 19, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Brian from Chicago

    I realize that it's a little scary that we're "playing God", but if humans really are responsible for killing off so many species, then this is a chance for us to learn how to undo that devastation. And this knowlege may prove critical if we fail to restore our environment before more species are lost.

    January 20, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  9. Joey!

    crap, i absolutely love the comments on this article. Didn't expect to get so many laughs out of reading comments on a science story. Glad people still have their senses of humor.

    January 20, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  10. JurrassicPark

    these idiot scientists must have never seen Jurassic Park

    January 20, 2011 at 3:25 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jon

    Jurrasic park!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 20, 2011 at 6:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Zee

      Right?! Mammoth edition!

      January 31, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. johail

    sorry but i dont care what you guys think bad about this i think its awesome and a great idea! and please dont blame anything on scientist, scientist have done many many many things for us they found cures for some types of cancer but not all of it and if they could make a mammoth in 6 years i bet they could find the cure for all cancers soon so please dont blame it on them. they have done a ton of stuff for us like techonology and also they found cures for other deadly deaseses, so give thanks to them for all they have done for us.....and a making a mammoth is a great idea! from making a mammoth they could learn to do a bunch of stuff.

    January 20, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • David Pirtle

      Yes, it is a bit ironic to read comments posted via COMPUTER to the INTERNET about the evils of SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY.

      January 24, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. janie

    All of you people who are whining about this should probably just be quiet. This will be an amazing opportunity to learn from our past. The sad thing is that most of you are complaining just to have something to whine about. How about instead of whining you go out there and do something yourself instead of waiting for someone to do it for you.

    January 20, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • hehe

      I agree with you. And it's not funny, this is a serious topic. Scientists have discovered so much so far, let them do their job. But I agree with most of you, I do feel sorry for the mammoth. I think managing these kind of things should be the job of our Creator, not us. But still.....
      And those of you think the mammoth will be yummy, juicy red meat, go get your heads bulldozed. This is a science experiment first of all, not a joke or something to laugh about. Let the mammoth be (in peace). I just wonder what will happen after it is cloned...............:-/

      January 23, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rendau

    Maybe they will raise a herd of these critters and then shear them like sheep. I'd think mammoth wool could be a very profitable commodity.

    January 20, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • SpaceHillbilly

      How about tweaking the genes involved in order to produce mini-mammoths? A woolly mammoth the size of a miniature collie would no doubt be a bestseller at PetSmart....

      January 26, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sheryl Zettner

    If they are going to resurrect extinct species, how about some of the animals we have killed off in the last two hundred years for fashion, food, and sport. I guess that is not as fun if you are a scientist out to prove you have power over life and death itself.

    I think science can be amazing, but I don't see a lot of about the consequences of research anymore. The only advantage I can see for this kind of research is that once we start regenerating clones of our lost heroes and villains, we can prove can close the debate of whether it is nature or nurture. Either Oscar Wilde will be brilliant or a bore. And will he be gay or run off to Paris with me? Assuming Adolf Hitler II hasn't destroyed it. I semi-joke, but we are already in an overpopulated world, and this kind of research seems geared in one direction–drawing the past back into the present. That will have consequences, and it's sad that our scientists aren't required to double major in philosophy or something.

    January 21, 2011 at 6:36 am | Report abuse |
    • AM

      I for one do not believe that philosophy has much to teach science, requiring a double major would be a waste of time for them.

      Either way, the science has its own point of view, making them learn philosophy will not make them agree with you.
      This kind of research is geared at unlocking the mysteries of the cell, dna, life itself, the consequences of this research will be profound.

      January 21, 2011 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Carolyn


      January 23, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
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