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. MIchael

    It would be interesting to see if they could clone a varied enough group to allow for reproduction and thus re-population of the species. No doubt they could survive in some of the north American climates and would not have to face hunting. We could breed a wild and domesticated variety and see if mammoth burgers are any good – clearly man believed so 10,000 years ago!

    February 6, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  2. davey

    these mammoths are magnificent creatures that could successfully survive the brutal elements of the frozen northern lands . the buffalo here in canada display the rugged features of the wild free spirit . the mammoth were the lords of their time. perhaps a herd could be introduced in the north countries again

    February 6, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  3. Sage Thrasher

    Pity the scientists didn't do enough research before hand to realize mammoths are much more closely related to Asian elephants than to African elephants. Asian & African elephants typically need to be housed separately because both species carry strains of diseases that are benign to the regular host species but fatal to other species of elephant. Hopefully the cloned baby will gain immunity from the African parent, but it would have been a safer bet to use an Asian elephant host in the first place. Hopefully they will also do sufficient paleoenvironmental studies to figure out the appropriate tundra–dry, not wet–in which to create the preserve.

    February 7, 2011 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
  4. Turtleshell

    What exactly is this knowledge worth long term? We already know why it became extinct, natural selection.In the grand scheme of things why do the details matter? What possibly can a resurrected species living in the 21st century tell us about how it lived in the Pleistocene era? There are so many impossible factors and variables that it would make any conclusions useless. How can we possibly recreate it's environment? If this being is created, with spliced DNA, I would feel so sorry for it.

    February 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. scott

    Don't get too excited the chances of actually getting this to happen are very small. And if it works this "mammoth" will die soon after being soo far out of its enviroment.

    February 8, 2011 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  6. kt

    This does not make any sense to me. The environment for mammoth to grow in the Pleistocene is much different with the world today. "After the mammoth is born, we'll examine its ecology and genes to study why the species became extinct and other factors." How do you examine the "ecology" by only studying a single animal? Moreover, there are too many factors which can be in play for the extinction of a certain species. What we conclude from the study today may not apply to the world in Pleistocene....... Overall, I feel sad for the future mammoth baby if it is really born................

    February 9, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Face

      Sigh, you really have no idea how science works do you?
      Could they *gasp* study it in its natural environment, in say, the northern parts of the NA continent??

      Do you even know what the Pleistocene era was prior to reading this post? Not to slam you down, but please research a bit more before commenting.
      It's good that you put your ideas out there though 🙂

      February 10, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  7. Gravy

    First off I just want to say if it hasn't been said all ready AUK you are a RETARD! Second I didn't go through every post way to many so if this has already been said sorry. Am I the only one that finds this ironic? They are trying to resurrect one of the greatest beast to roam this earth 12,000 years ago and died in the ICE age to possible die in another ICE age? Oh and I do feel sorry for the elephant LOL. On the serious side: I kind of want to see what would happen if this is a success but they really need to stop at one and don't let it reproduce.

    February 9, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. FromtheFuture

    Hi y'all,

    I am from 100 years in the future. Just thought I would say hello. Don't worry. This is a great project. You will see in time. We use mammoths to for everything, now. They power our factories, enforce our laws, and raise our children. It is a great time to be alive. I am not even typing this message. I am dictating it to my mammoth. Good luck. Science Rules.

    February 10, 2011 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
  9. b. Slider

    I hope that they don;t wind up creating ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER

    February 10, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. musings

    I'm sure this will be accomplished in time for the new Ice Age which seems to be upon us in the Northeast.

    My wish list, however, would also include saber tooth tigers and even recently extinct marsupials like the Thylacine (or marsupial wolf). Bring back the oldies.

    February 11, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. MAmmothjohnson

    Then we can make an mammoth/elephant cross, a gaint Liger like animal! MY new FAVORITE ANIMAL!

    February 12, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • ejs

      Whats the value of this project. Entertainment mainly with a bit of research/intellectual curiousity(which is valuable). We're not going to repopulate them ANYWHERE. ludicrous. Did Man really kill them off? debatable. We don't even know WHAT THEY ATE. Of course they should be publicly displayed. Like Brother Maynard(?) said," if u train a rat,what have you got ? A trained rat. It should be very very interesting, but u can't actually do anything with it except,maybe, auction it off to Hunters at some point. Wow, Im the only person to ever Bag a Wolly Mamoth with a big GUN... or send it to the moon maybe. Ther'e aint no place on earth for it to roam...

      February 14, 2011 at 4:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Steven

      The first thing someone suggested that we do is eat it.

      February 16, 2011 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      If you know anything about biology, this clone will not be elephant and mammoth cross. Idiot

      February 16, 2011 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
  12. MAmmothjohnson

    Also, we now will know if the walruss or the mammoth has the second largest package of all mammals(behind ME)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 12, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  13. TampaGirl

    How will this help mankind? – but then again these intellectuals think they are gods. Hello The Island of Dr. Moreau

    February 12, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      You sound REALLY smart girl, how have you helped mankind lately?

      February 13, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • timetraveler

      What are you doing with your life? Beside breeding, that is, which any dog can do.

      February 15, 2011 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
    • SJJ

      The value of this project is to bring back the dinosaurs so they can eat the stupid people. Open a park and post a sign "Pet at your own risk". Over population solved, natural selection re-introduced.

      February 16, 2011 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Maria Urrutia-Mendizabal

      I totally agree you. I imagine that as scientists, it is very interesting to work on cloning and all sorts of experiments, but I think that it is silly to spend time and money on useless things like to clone a mammoth when scientists could use the intelligence and resources for the study of cures for diseases such as cancer or AIDS.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SFguy

    TampaGirl, we'd be bringing back a species that mankind is responsible for killing off. Mammoths didn't go extinct naturally, they were over-hunted by man. It would be wonderful if herds of mammoths could roam the world again.

    February 13, 2011 at 2:15 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      SFguy: You don't know that. For all we know, they died off because of some deadly viral pandemic.

      February 15, 2011 at 3:08 am | Report abuse |
  15. SFguy

    and it's probably tasty 😉

    February 13, 2011 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
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