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. Bacon

    If this works, maybe they will introduce a 'Long Spear Season' every Fall to go with them

    January 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • onthewildedge

      I like the way your thinking there.

      January 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. rose helen militello

    i'm soon to be 73 yrs.old, hope i live another 6 yrs to see this,and my mind is still in working order

    January 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Corvus1

      I hope so, too. Nobody should miss something like this.

      January 17, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Raees Mohamed

    Bravo! Bravo! I knew it could be done. Great job guys. Soon we might see the wolly mammoth walk the Earth again.

    January 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. joe

    you only thought of if you could.. never if you should..

    January 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ian Malcolm, Chaotician

      Took the words right out of my mouth.

      January 17, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |


    January 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • You can't breed two identical clones

      The DNA from the elephant egg is removed and replaced with the Mammoth DNA - its a clone not a hybrid

      January 17, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Microbial

      The elephants DNA will be removed from the egg. Only the mammoths DNA will be present. The egg is essentially an empty vesicle.

      January 17, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Canada

      It's very possible... that's like saying you cant clone an Asian Elephant using and African Elephant...they are all Elephants... if you can cross a tiger and a lion, im sure a Mammoth would be easy.

      January 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Why is it always those that shout (type in caps) are the most stupid. Try reading up on cloning before you embarrass yourself again.

      January 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maria

      They crossed a killer whale and a dolphin to make a wolphin, so I don't see why they can't do this. If anyone wants to see the wolphin, check out the sea life park in Oahu.

      January 17, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Em

      The wholphin is actually a cross between a FALSE killer whale and a dolphin. False killer whales are actually another type of dolphin so it's not really a huge leap.

      January 17, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Technically, the clone will still have the host's mitochondrial DNA, so it wouldn't be 100% clonal. But the mammoth mtDNA was sequenced about 5 years ago – it would be interesting to see how close that is to modern elephants.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mr. Mxlpxltk

    ALLRIGHT! Maybe if they clone enough of them, they'll start breeding on their own! then we can look forward to roadside "Mammoth-burger" stands!

    January 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • You can't breed two identical clones

      Mammoth would probably very stringy

      January 17, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • T3chsupport

      I'd think it would be pretty fatty.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      I'll take mine with extra pre-historic sauce!

      January 17, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. You can't breed two identical clones

    You cannot breed two clones with identical DNA from the same animal.

    January 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • T3chsupport

      Yeah... thanks for that impressive information. Obviously you can't breed identical twins, because if they're identical, then they're the same gender. If they're going to breed more than one, I think they've already figured out where they'd get non-identical DNA from. This isn't the only African elephant, nor the only viable mammoth DNA in the world.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. LindaPP

    Are these people out of their freakin' minds? Imagine if they do this. Did anyone see Jurassic Park???!!! What the hell is wrong with people. If these creatures are put back on the Earth, that WILL be the end of mankind!

    January 17, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • PR

      J. Park was a movie!!!

      January 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Voice of Reason

      Yes! Yes! Look out for the carnivorous wooly mammoth!!! Run for your life!! Oh wait they only live in the arctic? Look out Canada! Run for your life! Oh wait, they are vegetarian? Well I've got to have something to panic about!!! The sky is falling!

      January 17, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cornea503

      Yes, Wooly Mammoths will conquer man and take over the Earth..Bwahaha

      January 17, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • kayristin

      Isn't that a bit of an overreaction? It's a mammoth... not a dinosaur. IF it works, they'll probably live somewhere like Africa. Not walking the streets of New York. Humans lived when mammoths lived.

      January 17, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Canada

      Congrats on posting the stupidest comment today!

      January 17, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Habadabilis

      Stupid Human.

      January 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • jon

      hahaahah.thats hilarious

      January 17, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • nepawoods

      " Did anyone see Jurassic Park???!!! What the hell is wrong with people." ... OK, just for the heck of it, let's pretend it wasn't just a movie. Dinosaurs never coexisted with man, hence one could wonder how it would all play out if they did. Mammoths, on the hand, did coexist with man. We hunted and ate them. They didn't hunt and eat us.

      January 17, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • willow

      wait a minute... if LindaPP's logic can be used on other movies, then that means Darth Vader must exist... in a galaxy far far away.

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

      To the above: Nonsense.

      January 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tewrobert

      Linda PP put your remote down and step away from the TV, and repeat,.......its only a movie...Its only a movie..anyway The beastly looking wolly mammoths dont eat people, 🙂

      January 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • toolate

      Too late. I already cloned a couple Mommoths while you sat there worrying about what ithey would do to you. As sioobn as I find out where you live, I am gonna let them roam freely in your neighborhood.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mr. Mxlptxlk

    ALLRIGHT! Now if they can make one(I guess two) and get them to breed, we can all look forward to roadside "Mammoth-burger" stands! YAY !

    January 17, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bruce

    Finally! I've wondered for years why no one has not been trying this. I also think we could bring back some other extinct species for study. We have some organic remains of both the dodo and the passenger pigeon. I know there are many variables to completely restoring a species, but it would be fascinating to actually see a dodo or some other animal that has been gone for centuries.

    As far as the mammoth, I'm excited to await the results.

    But "Kinki University?" I wonder how many fraternities are on that campus?

    January 17, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • goodtimes

      Yes, and even some of the recently extinct animals like the black rhino

      January 17, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truly True

      Oooh! Giant Sloths! Cave bears! Saber-toothed tigers!

      I remember my historical geology prof telling us that sabe-rtoothed tigers went extinct because their curved teeth were such a great boon to survival that they grew and grew and grew over the generations and finally the adults had teeth that grew back and punctured their muzzles and closed them tight and killed them, eventually killing off the species. This has to have been a joke but I was very impressed at the time. That one factoid has stayed with me for years.

      January 18, 2011 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
  11. goodtimes

    sweet! I would love to see a live mammoth one day 😀

    January 17, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. LibraLee

    They are out of thier cot darn minds...they need to let sleeping dogs lie. Man is it's own biggest enemy!

    January 17, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mike S.

    This sounds really cool, and would be a great scientific achievement, but there were reasons why the mammoth went extinct ... maybe is should stay that way.

    January 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Krista

      The mammoth went extinct because humans hunted it to extinction... Humans are creating a mass extinction event on this planet, equal to any in the geological timeline, just with our presence and normal activities.

      January 17, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • rat

      The main cause of their extinction was likely not hunting but rather the fact that the ice age ended. Mammoth had to live close to the glaciers in order to avoid the heavy snowfall that would have existed further south.

      January 17, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • rob

      nuclear bomb great scientific achievement also. just because we can doesn't mean we should. stupidest species on the planet. on the up side hopefully we will wipe ourselves out with engineered virus or some such technological scientific wonder and planet can get back to normal.

      And as far as morals go, even the common lizard towers over man. Ugh.

      Get me my coat. I am ready for the rapture. Saw this movie before. It was called "The Tower of Babel."

      January 17, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Cornea503

    I really home they can pull this off. It would be pretty awesome to see a live Mammoth.

    January 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. yogi

    I want a Mammoth burger with a side of mammoth eggs and french fries

    January 17, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Mammoths didn't lay eggs.

      January 17, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
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