Russian scientists to clone woolly mammoth

Discussion in 'The Science Forum' started by brettarider, Dec 7, 2011.

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  1. Taken from the BBC website, So whats your view freak science or a worthwile endevour?

    Scientists from Russia and Japan are undertaking a Jurassic Park-style experiment to bring the woolly mammoth out of extinction.

    The scientists claim that a thigh bone found in August contains remarkably well-preserved marrow cells, which could form the starting point of the experiment.

    The team claim that the cloning could be complete within the next five years.

    But others have cast doubt on whether such a thing is possible.
    Mother cow?

    The team, from the Siberian mammoth museum and Japan's Kinki University, said that they planned to extract a nucleus from the animal's bone marrow and insert it into the egg of an African elephant.

    Similar procedures have been done before with mixed results.

    In 2009 it was reported that the recently extinct Pyrenean ibex was brought back to life briefly using 10-year-old DNA from the animal's skin. The cloned ibex died within minutes of being born, due to breathing difficulties.

    The Roslin Institute, famous for cloning Dolly the sheep, no longer conducts cloning work but has published some thoughts on the possibilities of bringing extinct species back to life.

    It said it was extremely unlikely such an experiment would be successful, especially using an elephant surrogate.

    "First, a suitable surrogate mother animal is required. For the mammoth this would need to be a cow (as best biological fit) but even here the size difference may preclude gestation to term," it said.

    The success rate for such an experiment would be in the range of 1-5%, it said.

    The second issue would be the need for viable whole cells.

    "If there are intact cells in this tissue they have been 'stored' frozen. However, if we think back to what actually happened to the animal - it died, even if from the cold, the cells in the body would have taken some time to freeze. This time lag would allow for breakdown of the cells, which normally happens when any animal dies. Then the carcass would freeze. So it is unlikely that the cells would be viable," it said.

    Assuming that viable cells are found it becomes a numbers game, it went on.

    "Let's say that one in a thousand cells were nevertheless viable, practical issues come into play. Given that we have an efficiency of 1% cloning for livestock species and if only one in a thousand cells are viable then around 100,000 cells would need to be transferred," it said.

    Charles Foster, a fellow at Green Templeton College, Oxford, seemed more optimistic.

    "The idea of mammoth cloning isn't completely ridiculous.

    "How the resultant embryos would fare beyond the stage of a few cells is more or less unknown," he said.

    While most of the genetic coding of the embryo would come from the mammoth, some would come from the elephant ovum.

    "We really don't know what the contribution of that cytoplasmic material is, or how it would interact with 'alien' DNA," he said.

    It would however mean that, even if successful, the clone would be a hybrid rather than a pure mammoth.

  2. I want one for Xmas, they are really cute and will make excellent pets...the fur can be used to make nifty pullovers and the tusks carved into ornate wine bottle corkskrews.
  3. I read somewhere that some Siberian tribe or other have been eating the meat of frozen Mammoths they have disinterred from the snow/permafrost. It was reported that the meat was palatable.

    I fancy trying that. It would make a (temporary) change from Whelk.

    And as for using an African elephant as the cloning platform is just asking for trouble - those things are bloody dangerous and unpredictable.

    They might be better off using a pygmy elephant ... er... Hang on ...


    Vet Student Gored To Death By Pygmy Elephant - Yahoo!
  4. Why? Surely there are more important things to be researching?
  5. Goatrutar,
    You havent watched Idiocracy yet go watch then you'll understand!
  6. Who else remembers when they said that cloning in any way would be practically impossible? I do believe that given enough time and money such things will happen.
    As an aside; has anyone read the papers on the fellow who is conducting regressive genetic research on birds, in particular hens and their eggs? Makes very interesting reading.
  7. a frankenstein elephant from Japans Kinki (pronounced kinky ??) university...
  8. I'd pay very good money to have a mammoth as a pet. It's even higher on the wish-list than the honey badger and the spotted hyena. :)

    PS: For 'very good money' read 'a packet of custard creams and some belly-button fluff'.
  9. Think this is excellent idea, next we need to clone Sabre tooth tigers as well. If this is a success what else could they bring back from extinction, the Dodo, Tasmanian Tiger??
  10. These beasties went extinct for a reason-and it wasn't Ug with his wooden spear.
    They were part of an entire ecology that was appropriate for its Ice Age time. When that ecological slot went, so did they.
    Dragging them back from the dead might be an interesting scientific experiment, but in practical terms- Why? It's not an Ice Age.
    Umpteen billion species have come and gone, and I would have thought trying to revive/reconstruct extinct desert life forms might be of more practical use.
    Bring back the Quagga!
    (It scores more points in Scrabble)

  11. I totally agree. Evolution made it extinct. Too big, too heavy, too cumbersome, just like the SLR.

    I rest my case.
  12. Let's face it.....


    .....they have a good head start!
  13. You're going straight to hell for that one!
  14. Hell, is far to good a punishment, BLASPHEMER!!! Stoning is the only option
  15. Just read the synopsis on imdb. All became clear afterward.