A team of scientists from Japan is heading to Russia to find frozen Wooly Mammoth cells. They want the cells to use in a cloning experiment to see if they can grow a mammoth from cell to whole live animal. If the scientists can either find an intact mammoth cell in Siberia, or from a Russian research lab, and prepare it for healthy growth, the plan is to implant it in an African elephant egg, and then grow the embryo. Once a healthy embryo is created, it will be inserted into an elephant womb for gestation. Such attempts have been made, but failed because the cells were damaged by ice.
“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. After the mammoth is born, we’ll examine its ecology and genes to study why the species became extinct and other factors,” said researcher Akira Iritani. Researchers from Kinki University began studying the possibility of mammoth resurrection in 1997. The best preserved frozen mammoth remains are located in Siberia. If the cloning and gestation project are successful, the researchers say a wooly mammoth could be living in about four years. The same researchers already successfully cloned a mouse from mouse cells that had been frozen for sixteen years. (Source: tgdaily.com)
Wooly mammoths were about the same height as modern African elephants, with some very obvious differences such as their shaggy fur coats, different tusks, and much smaller ears. The last mammoths lived about 8,000 B.C., before climate change and human hunting caused them to go extinct. They are more closely related to Asian elephants on a genetic level. Lets hope if wooly mammoths can be rejuvenated, climate change and hunting don’t wipe them out again.
Image Credit: Tracy O