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. money well spent

    well once again the smartest people in the world, turn their talents to bringing back the past instead of trying to focus on important things such as our future and sustainable energy sources with declining oil supplies, how to mitigate the super volcano under Yellowstone...nope they want a mammoth to run wild again who will probably out last human kind...meanwhile ...deep in the caverns of CERN in Switzerland they are still trying to create the Big what self destructive lot we are.

    February 13, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • timetraveler

      What's this "we" stuff? The researchers at CERN are some of the world's most brilliant physicists who are expanding mankind's understanding of nature and our beginnings. You guzzle down Bud Lite and watch NASCAR and American Idol. You have about as much in common with anyone at CERN as a flea does with a Porsche. Next time you presume to tell anyone what to use their talent on, get off your fat a$$, get an education, and do what you think should be done. In the meantime, STFU.

      February 15, 2011 at 1:13 am | Report abuse |
    • HeavyLoads

      Man, you are truly an idiot. You're really worried about the super volcano under Yellowstone? I have some news for you – if that thing ever erupts, there is absolutely nothing in man's power to stop it. All we can hope for is an early warning sign. And what makes you think that an embryologist knows anything about geology? Or that a Cern physicist knows anything about electrical, nuclear, or geophysical engineering (for sustainable energy). Luckily for you, those "smartest people in the world" are all hard at work developing the technologies that allow you to sit back in your Lazy boy and make completely absurd and embarrassing comments on Al Gore's internet.

      February 15, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • TechGromit

      If they can do this, then maybe they can clone dinosaurs again. Think of it, a limitless supply of oil. 🙂

      February 15, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Digger

      We can never know where we are going unless we know where we have been. History can and will (as it always does) repeat itself. Why? Because most people believe that the future is the only site that holds importance. We MUST learn from the mysteries of our past...perhaps then, the world will be just that much safer for our children and grand children's children...Please think before you make such comments.

      August 19, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Enshaa-el bey

    Yall need to chill keep making it worst for yourself let nature take her course! FReedom 9×9

    February 14, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. herelast

    That would be Awesome!.. While large, woolly mammoths were impressive animals, they were, in fact, not noticeably taller than present-day African elephants, though they were heavier. Fully grown mammoth bulls reached heights between (9.2 ft) and (13.1 ft).. i want one!!! lol..

    February 15, 2011 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. jordan

    Seriously! There is no value to this other than torturing an animal we've already possibly hunted to extinction. As far as them roaming these great lands free in herds you have to be joking again. What animal freely roams this planet without being hunted tortured or caged? That includes other humans.

    February 15, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bob

    Do you think the dominant species 10,000 years from now will clone us? I hope so...

    February 15, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • HeavyLoads

      Ha! Awesome. You just blew my mind.

      February 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve


      February 16, 2011 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Qawwal

      Quite an interesting thought there, and far-sighted. However, it is highly likely. Are you the Bobson I knew durign my years studying in MO?

      February 16, 2011 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
  6. Regular guy

    how dumb, spend the money and time finding an Aids cure.

    February 15, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Simon

      That's a nice thought...but these scientist work on cloning, and while in the short term it appears something like this wouldn't help Aids research, on the big long term picture it might lead to information that could help with Aids or other diseases. While Aids research is of the up most importance, the logic that we and all monies should be focused on it's cure is unreasonable..........anyway, I'm 100% confident we have the cure for that and many other diseases...but the money is in controlling symptoms and not curing illness....our governments are run by the elite and wealthy, those same people own and operate the companies that produce the symptom controlling meds.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Andrew

    They used a Powerblanket to thaw it out of the ice aka w w w . POWERBLANKET . c o m

    February 15, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. 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 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  9. Art

    It'll probably be hunted and killed. As with everything the US does with anything that breathes and doesn't have a gun to protect itself.

    February 16, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • douglas hanlon

      art art art.....tsk ...are you not also a killer by proxy?if you eat meat you are no different then a hunter other then we eat healthier meat.
      What's that? you say you don't eat meat.Ok then how about when your soybeans are harvested.The massive machines that harvest those uniculture fields kill mice ,voles and all sorts of other creatures in the production of your food choice.
      Even if by some miracle you grow all your own food the simple act of cleaning your toilet disrupts colonies of bacteria....which are animals with dna just like mammoths are.....they just are't as spectacular as megafauna.
      Ok so you are a saint that nevers kills for convience or health.....oh wait you do have an immune system don't you.
      Bacteria invade your blood and tissue from a splinter and you kill them off without a thought...literally.
      See you anti hunters are killers too......but you think you're above pulling a trigger.....youare is just that your triggers are different.Have a great daycontemplating your new found killer status...or just stick your head in the sand and go on feeling holier then thou.

      May 4, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • lovin this!

      Douglas, what you said literally made my day. That is so true!! Everyone kills some form of living organisim everyday, if we didn't we would all be dead:)

      May 18, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Larry appears you are the real idiot here. Where have you been that you do not know what a clone is? The egg is only a carrier. The animal produced will have the exact DNA of the Mammoth the preserved carcass came from...and the same father and mother. It will be only a Mammoth, NOT a cross!!

    February 26, 2011 at 5:43 am | Report abuse |
  11. rosie

    wow they just need to leave the wooly mammoths be!!! ifnthey bring it back we will all die or some one will hunt it down and kill it and it might be be just kidding!!

    March 3, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  12. Tidal

    Some things are necessary in life.....a mammoth not really but the knowledge of how to can be helpful in other medical technology. Also as far as the comment about hunting it.....typical liberal statement most hunters do it for food. Remember that next time you go out for a burger someone killed and processed that cute cow your eating. It's so much easier to throw down .99 than to pull the trigger.......but your still the one who caused it.

    April 24, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. pothai

    the thought of being some of the first humans in about 10,000 years to see a mammoth, i for one am greatly excited about this. The only real question would be the process of breeding the mammoth if all goes well.

    May 31, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  14. Rabi

    I'm remembering Jurassic Park...
    "your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."
    "But, John. If the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don't eat the tourists."
    "God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs..."
    "Dinosaurs and man... two species separated by 65 million years of evolution, have suddenly been thrown into the mix together. How can we possibly have the slightest idea of what to expect?"

    May 31, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hanthan

      i understand your concern but this isnt a species that was seperated from man, man and the mammoth were two species that were together 10,000 years ago.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  15. Michael

    OK...honestly, the only logic I can see in this experiment (other than to capitalize on the popularity of the Ice Age movies) is either to re-introduce mammoths as a food source or to open up a whole new prehistoric restoration program that raises serious ethical questions. It's one thing to try and replicate a sheep...but do we honestly need to replicate animals that already spent their time on Earth? That's the thing that makes palentology so fascinating. It's all about what we learn, and what we still don't know. This just seems like a way to reduce independent conclusions by modern science. And by the way...if we're still working on fixing the climate crisis....where is the government going to keep all these cloned mammoths? Canada?

    September 28, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jenkins

      The north and south pole are pretty barren. They could put them there.

      September 29, 2011 at 4:54 am | Report abuse |
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