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. Tasuja

    What if they clone a neanderthal? Would they then become the worker drones of ours?

    January 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      Yeah right, think of the last time a redhead ever did anything for you without wanting something back. lol

      January 17, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Pinky Tuskadarow

    I'm sure mammoths are quite endowed.

    January 17, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jonny

    I can't wait to hear about this animal dying to one of the billion+ strains of bacteria, virus, disease, etc that it has no defense for.

    January 17, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. biff

    Elvis is next !

    January 17, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bonnie

    REally?? why??? its extinct for a reason...and then to be the only one of that species on earth ...and then subject the poor thing to nothing but being poked and prodded by scientist and locked ina cage its entire life..that is animal abuse....dont you think the money could be spent on more importatnt things like looking for a cure to cancer??? or insanity?? ABUSE ABUSE ABUSE....Humans think they can do whatever they want without consequences....I hope these scientest dont sleep at night

    January 17, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Crash

    Genesis CPT 11 verse 6 says that nothing they propose to do will be withheld from them, weather it is buiding towers or cloning wolly mammoths, God created sciense, and allows us to use it as a tool. But it would be great if we were smart about it. Next someone will want to dig up Washington, clone him and have him fix everything. Now thats an idea...

    January 17, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chris

    Wow. Sounds like a mammoth challenge.

    January 17, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. EZ

    Elvis...really? Can we do that? Now that would be awesome and totally cool!!

    January 17, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. aaron

    It died out. leave it alone.

    January 17, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      the clone would be a "new" one, not one that previously died...

      January 17, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bobby

    So, the earth has been warming up since the ice age 12,000 years ago? Hmmmm ... maybe there's more to global warming than just human pollution? Maybe the earth has gone through warming and cooling periods throughout it's long history? Of course, being "green" is essential ... but perhaps part of being "environmental" is learning to roll with the NATURAL environmental changes as well.

    January 17, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'So, the earth has been warming up since the ice age 12,000 years ago? Hmmmm ... maybe there's more to global warming than just human pollution? Maybe the earth has gone through warming and cooling periods throughout it's long history? '
      Dang of course, why has no one thought of that before. You had better inform all the climatologists and other earth scientists, im sure none of them have ever thought of taking such information into account when they perform their scientific investigations.

      January 17, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ace

    Bring back King KONG!

    January 17, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Thomas

    Am I the only one who has an issue with resurrecting a long extinct species for the sole purpose of turning it into a lab rat and circus freak

    January 17, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lush Rimfire

    Mmm ! mmm another tasty morsel for the BBQ !

    January 17, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. @ THE HATERS

    OK, here's an argument that I CHALLENGE someone who disagrees to refute. I'd like to use the current problem of invasive species as my subject. For the sake of argument, lets assume the worst case (almost impossible) argument that this mammoth were to escape from the lab and begin procreation Jurassic Park style. I mean, the thing would die immediately because it has a fur coat suited for ice-age climate and because it would have nothing to eat since the plants it used to eat are probably also extinct, but we'll have to set that aside for now. If it were able to adapt, it would become like any other invasive species. However, unlike the countless current invasive species such as weeds, insects, and diseases, I would think this one would be less of a struggle to control. Its a freakin' WOOLY MAMMOTH. They aren't that hard to find. We are people after all, eradicating species is what we do best. We used to hunt these things with spears in our barefeet! I'm sure taking out a few mammoths before their numbers become out of control is not out of the realm of possibility.

    So there it is, I'm now accapting legitimate arguments against this stance. Please refrain from referencing God or the Bible in your argument, I'm looking for solid, educated responses only.

    January 17, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • ace

      Polar Bears have proven to live in warm climates! And I do believe it will be easy to find suitable food for a mammoth

      January 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • G

      My argument is still this: we haven't learned to respect the animals we have on this planet now. We have animals just as amazing struggling to survive. I'd say put the money they were going to spend in bringing back an extinct mammal into saving others on the brink of extinction.

      Mastering the art of cloning may save other animals from extinction, sure. But it is not the same as learning to treat said animals with dignity and respect, providing (or leaving) habitate for them etc. It seems our philosophies have to change, not our science.

      January 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aarrgghh

      We still have all of the fauna we had 12,000 years ago. Why would the food it ate no longer be around? we killed it off cause it tasted good, did you really think we killed off the plants it liked too?

      January 17, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. oh please

    they want to do this, because they also found SOFT TISSUE of T REX when a bone was opened up, the marrow was still soft, so if they can clone a mammoth, they can clone a t rex

    January 17, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
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