Japan, Russia see chance to clone mammoth

Dec 04, 2011
Mammoths became extinct about 10,000 years ago
An archaeologist removes dirt from around a 50,000 year old mammoth tusk. Scientists from Japan and Russia believe it may be possible to clone a mammoth after finding well-preserved bone marrow in a thigh bone recovered from permafrost soil in Siberia, a report said Saturday.

Scientists from Japan and Russia believe it may be possible to clone a mammoth after finding well-preserved bone marrow in a thigh bone recovered from permafrost soil in Siberia, a report said Saturday.

Teams from the Sakha Republic's mammoth museum and Japan's Kinki University will launch fully-fledged joint research next year aiming to recreate the giant , Japan's Kyodo News reported from Yakutsk, Russia.

By replacing the nuclei of from an elephant with those taken from the mammoth's , embryos with mammoth DNA can be produced, Kyodo said, citing the researchers.

The scientists will then plant the embryos into elephant wombs for delivery, as the two species are close relatives, the report said.

Securing nuclei with an undamaged gene is essential for the nucleus transplantation technique, it said.

For scientists involved in the research since the late 1990s, finding nuclei with undamaged mammoth genes has been a challenge. Mammoths became extinct about 10,000 years ago.

But the discovery in August of the well-preserved thigh bone in Siberia has increased the chances of a successful cloning.

Global warming has thawed ground in eastern Russia that is usually almost permanently frozen, leading to the discoveries of a number of frozen mammoths, the report said.

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User comments : 61

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ScienceFreak86
5 / 5 (15) Dec 04, 2011
Dear scientists,clone my mother-in-law, and you will have your mammoth
Callippo
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 04, 2011
..a big woolly one...
Bitflux
1.3 / 5 (14) Dec 04, 2011
but why? Just to say, yep, we can?
There was a reason why tha mammoths went extinct, let them rest in peace.
Blakut
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 04, 2011
What was that reason?
NeptuneAD
4.2 / 5 (5) Dec 04, 2011
You say why, I think a good reason is so the species isn't lost forever, I would have thought we had a duty to preserve any and every extinct species that we can.
Ramadamses
5 / 5 (4) Dec 04, 2011
I still hope we'll be able to resurrect more species our ancestors killed just as giant kangaroo, dodo, ground sloth and so on.
Most unlikely nonetheless. Only the mammoth is possible to be seen again in my lifetime.
Imagine a mammoth ride through the taiga in the winter.... (SOME wodka included :-)
TS1
1.1 / 5 (7) Dec 04, 2011
Mammoths cannot live in Siberia under current conditions because, just as elephants, they would eat between 300 to 500 pounds of food per day.
hyongx
5 / 5 (7) Dec 04, 2011
Mongolia, then.
Also, I would pay to ride a mammoth.
well, a real mammoth, not scifreak86's mother-in-law.
fatcitymax
2.6 / 5 (5) Dec 04, 2011
Yummy! Barbecued mammoth!
ScienceFreak86
3 / 5 (4) Dec 04, 2011
I am waiting also for dinosaurs, barbecued tyranosaurus rex
plasticpower
3 / 5 (4) Dec 04, 2011
The cloned mammoth would not have any other mammoths to mate with and will age rather fast. It would be interesting to see a live one, but I don't expect the species to be resurrected from a clone.
Deadbolt
1.1 / 5 (8) Dec 04, 2011
You say why, I think a good reason is so the species isn't lost forever, I would have thought we had a duty to preserve any and every extinct species that we can.


Don't make it sound so noble. I don't think that logic holds up. It's for own enjoyment ultimately.

We just regret not seeing the big furry elephants since we (probably) killed them off 10k years ago.
TehDog
3 / 5 (4) Dec 04, 2011
I am waiting also for dinosaurs, barbecued tyranosaurus rex

Tastes like chicken :)
S_Bilderback
not rated yet Dec 04, 2011
There is a big problem with mitochondrial RNA. Most successful clones use replacement nuclei DNA from the mother, because exact mitochondrial RNA is always passed down from mother to her offspring, the relationship between the RNA and DNA is 100% compatible. If the genetic information of the nucleus is replaced, there is a high rate of protein production failure even in close matches of the same species.

They need to find some viable mammoth eggs to put the DNA in.
Starcaptain
4.2 / 5 (5) Dec 04, 2011
You guys aren't considering the funds that will come in from this success. It might mean nothing, but I hope you guys could realize it's only a branch on the tree that might lead to something more meaningful.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (24) Dec 04, 2011
but why?...There was a reason why tha mammoths went extinct
Well, the main reason is because humans killed them and all the rest of the megafauna off. But really if we can bring them back we should just to see what they're like, how they act, what they sound like, etc. Because it would be COOL. Them and woolly rhinos, and glyptodonts, and monster sloths, and sabertooths... and terror birds. I bet those things wail like shreaking banshees in the night.

I bet some day we will be able to reverse-engineer a creature just from a good fossil specimen, together with what we will learn about genetics and the function of organisms and evolution. We will be able to discern from that skeleton what organs it held and what muscles were attached to it. From those we should be able to rewrite a large percent of the code which created them, which we could compare to their descendants and fill in even more. Etc.

Life is probably a very complex formula with suprisingly few variables.
antonima
3.3 / 5 (6) Dec 04, 2011
Mammoth steak would most definitely fetch a high price in some circles.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.3 / 5 (24) Dec 04, 2011
Perhaps we could start with existing and recently extinct animals and work ever farther backward, recreating the course of evolution itself for whole branches of the tree.

A new science - reconstructive evolution. We could surmise the existence of animals we havent found yet due to the evidence that that form was necessary to bridge a certain gap.

We could create extremely detailed computer models of these animals in lieu of actually growing them. Cell for cell perhaps. As they're planning on doing with the human brain.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.3 / 5 (19) Dec 04, 2011
Mammoth steak would most definitely fetch a high price in some circles.
There have been stories that it is periodically available...
http://www.foodba...eat.html

-A collector friend of mine had one of those tusks sitting on his coffee table.
Cave_Man
1.9 / 5 (10) Dec 04, 2011
Damn someone beat me to the anecdote of being able to eat mammoth meat, a la certain gary larson comics heheh.

We could even resurrect the mammoth hunt as a human pastime activity.
WhiteJim
1.8 / 5 (10) Dec 04, 2011
There's nothing wrong with that. We should have mammoth farms to raise the new food source for a new chain of Bedrock Restaurant franchise.
Sinister1811
2.2 / 5 (12) Dec 04, 2011
but why? Just to say, yep, we can?
There was a reason why tha mammoths went extinct, let them rest in peace.


The reason they went extinct is likely due to overhunting. This is the same reason nearly everything is going extinct these days.

It's because of people like this, that I hope that they DO resurrect the mammoth.
a) It will show that the species isn't lost forever.
b) It will give us a chance to see them alive, study them and study their lifestyle.
c) And, most importantly, it will make the naysayers unhappy.

Also, it would be awesome if they could also do this with other animals (i.e. Neanderthals, Wooly Rhino, Thylacine, Sabre Toothed Tigers). Dinosaurs are still much of a stretch, since we don't have any preserved Dinosaur tissue.
antonima
2.6 / 5 (5) Dec 04, 2011
Mammoth steak would most definitely fetch a high price in some circles.
There have been stories that it is periodically available...
http://www.foodba...eat.html

-A collector friend of mine had one of those tusks sitting on his coffee table.


Hold on a second...

There, I've cleaned the mess, my mind has exploded. Frozen mammoth meat, well I don't see why not! It would certainly make for enormous bragging rights, and could be a culinary experience for a gourmet who has tried all other meats. I just haven't thought about naturally frozen mammoth before!
thewhitebear
2 / 5 (8) Dec 04, 2011
just seems sad to me. one cloned wooly mammoth. huge, hairy, with big black eyes. all alone in a very strange world. let it rest in peace.
antonima
3.8 / 5 (5) Dec 04, 2011
If they want to get more bang for their buck they may have to clone 5 or 10 of them to get a breeding population with sufficient genetic diversity. I wonder if they are more or less susceptible to modern day bacteria than elephants.
Anda
1 / 5 (5) Dec 05, 2011
Also, it would be awesome if they could also do this with other animals (i.e. Neanderthals


YOU animal!
Tangent2
2.3 / 5 (8) Dec 05, 2011
If they want to get more bang for their buck they may have to clone 5 or 10 of them to get a breeding population with sufficient genetic diversity. I wonder if they are more or less susceptible to modern day bacteria than elephants.


How can there be any genetic diversity if all of them are clones of the same animal? Wouldn't all of the other clones have the exact DNA, hence the term clone?
Sinister1811
1.7 / 5 (9) Dec 05, 2011
Also, it would be awesome if they could also do this with other animals (i.e. Neanderthals


YOU animal!


Really? That's all you got from that?
ScienceFreak86
1 / 5 (2) Dec 05, 2011
If they want to get more bang for their buck they may have to clone 5 or 10 of them to get a breeding population with sufficient genetic diversity. I wonder if they are more or less susceptible to modern day bacteria than elephants.


How can there be any genetic diversity if all of them are clones of the same animal? Wouldn't all of the other clones have the exact DNA, hence the term clone?


genome, DNA engineering?
Doug_Huffman
1.4 / 5 (10) Dec 05, 2011
Oh, the humanity! Oh, the teleology, the American science disaster.
Isaacsname
3 / 5 (4) Dec 05, 2011
Aloysius Snuffleupagus FTW

http://en.wikiped...fy31.jpg

That's my vote for the name of the first one:

" Aloysius "
Jaeherys
3.8 / 5 (5) Dec 05, 2011
There's no way, at this point in time, that we could "bring back the species" from one individual :(. Maybe in the future with better DNA production methods it could be possible to engineer genetic variance but I'd imagine there is still a lot we'd need to learn to be able to do that successfully.

My guess is at best we will get a sick, short lived mammoth, if it develops at all :(. But doesn't hurt to try, cause you never know.
neovenator
5 / 5 (4) Dec 05, 2011
apart from the many difficulties this project is going to encounter (like, insufficient number of viable elephant oocytes, embryo viability, pregnancy complications, etc), I welcome, wholeheartedly, the idea !!! Many people here claim: "OK we can do it but what about "why do we need it?". First, and most importantly, we DO NOT know whether we can - nobody ever has cloned an extinct organism, not to mention from genetic material of thousands of years. So, reason number one is - we MUST try and see if it is feasible, then the other questions follow which, for me as a biologist, are of secondary interest.
jplur
not rated yet Dec 05, 2011
First, and most importantly, we DO NOT know whether we can - nobody ever has cloned an extinct organism, not to mention from genetic material of thousands of years.


Actually the Pyrenean Ibex was brought back for all of 7 minutes.
S_Bilderback
5 / 5 (2) Dec 05, 2011
It is recorded that people have eaten mammoth meat:

FREEZING INSTANTANEOUS

"A writer in Knowledge for 1892, tells of the many discoveries of mammoth flesh in fresh condition and mentions that the natives of Siberia as well as their dogs have eaten of the flesh-another striking proof of its freshness. But perhaps the most remarkable testimony of this sort is the fact that an actual banquet has been served from the flesh of this supposedly extinct animal"

There is another similar from the 1920 where a reporter tried mammoth meat and claimed what he had was horrible and uneatable because of a freezer-burn type taste.

I think we need some fresh stuff.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.2 / 5 (18) Dec 05, 2011
Damn someone beat me to the anecdote of being able to eat mammoth meat, a la certain gary larson comics heheh.

We could even resurrect the mammoth hunt as a human pastime activity.
Yeah, compound cam bows with magnesium risers, Kevlar strings, and tritium sights along with carbon fiber arrows and collapsing stainless steel arrowheads. Just like the old days. Or we could set brush fires with flare guns from helicopters and drive them over cliffs I suppose. Flash bang grenades?
tadchem
5 / 5 (1) Dec 05, 2011
May I suggest Wrangel Island (N. of Siberia) be searched for viable cells from the Dwarf Mammoth which lived there until about 4000 years ago.
dschlink
5 / 5 (5) Dec 05, 2011
The offspring of two clones would not be clones themselves, due to recombination and gene-swapping within chromosomes. At the simplest level, if we look at two chromosomes: A and B. The offspring could be AA, AB or BB. If a mammoth has 56 chromosome pairs, as do elephants, you have thousands of possible combinations.

Both the lack of genetic diversity and the mitochondrial RNA are valid points in any case.
that_guy
4.3 / 5 (3) Dec 05, 2011
First, and most importantly, we DO NOT know whether we can - nobody ever has cloned an extinct organism, not to mention from genetic material of thousands of years.


Actually the Pyrenean Ibex was brought back for all of 7 minutes.

Some cloned sheep and cattle are living nearly full lives now. It seems that they have been making progress. Just because we have trouble now, doesn't mean we won't perfect it later, or even become moderately successful.

As for genetic diversity, I bet the elephant is close enough genetically to cross breed and create a hybrid animal that is analagous to the mammoth but has enough diversity to survive as a population.

i think the biggest obstacle is the fact that you'll have to severely upgrade the slaughter houses to handle animals that big.
CHollman82
1 / 5 (6) Dec 05, 2011
You say why, I think a good reason is so the species isn't lost forever, I would have thought we had a duty to preserve any and every extinct species that we can.


Why the hell would you think that?

Extinction is as natural as death, would you work to oppose death as well?

If you answer yes you haven't fully considered the ramifications of either.
CHollman82
2.8 / 5 (9) Dec 05, 2011
just seems sad to me. one cloned wooly mammoth. huge, hairy, with big black eyes. all alone in a very strange world. let it rest in peace.


Uhh... you do realize that the world is equally strange for everything when they are born right? The newly born organism has no idea that all others of it's kind existed a long time ago... it would not feel out of place like a time traveler would... it is a new life born now, just like anything else.
FrankHerbert
0.9 / 5 (55) Dec 05, 2011
Extinction is as natural as death, would you work to oppose death as well?


Why would one not? I'm assuming you think it is futile. Do you have a different reason?

Also Humans are an emergent property of the universe so anything we do is also "natural". Resurrecting extinct species would be a natural act, as ALL acts are.

Natural/unnatural is the most lazy, meaningless false dichotomy imaginable.
CHollman82
2 / 5 (8) Dec 05, 2011
Extinction is as natural as death, would you work to oppose death as well?


Why would one not? I'm assuming you think it is futile. Do you have a different reason?


Death is a prerequisite of 99.99999etc% of all life that has ever existed... death drives evolution. complex multicellular life would not exist without it.

Also Humans are an emergent property of the universe so anything we do is also "natural". Resurrecting extinct species would be a natural act, as ALL acts are.
Natural/unnatural is the most lazy, meaningless false dichotomy imaginable.


I fully agree with this. I didn't mean to imply it would be unnatural to oppose death, just unwise
FrankHerbert
0.9 / 5 (52) Dec 05, 2011
Death is a prerequisite of life... death drives evolution. complex multicellular life would not exist without it.

^The original quote

I don't think it is a prerequisite of life. That seems anthropic to me. And before we get muddied in definitions immortality IS NOT invulnerability. I'm not saying technology will defeat death, I'm saying technology can defeat aging.

You can view aging as a genetic disease that all humans (and most organisms) share. Bacteria don't age in the same sense we do. They just kind of grow and bud off. As far as multicellular life, there is the immortal jellyfish http://en.wikiped...utricula .

I view it as a genetic disease in light of humanity (and a few other organisms) species-wide genetic inability to produce vitamin C. Aging just happens to be more complex and selected for for more reasons.

Maybe death is required to develop complex, intelligent life. We're already there though. We have the presence of mind to change it
CHollman82
1.7 / 5 (7) Dec 05, 2011
Right, but I was indeed talking about death, not aging.

Otherwise I agree with you, but must point out that our lifespans were likely selected for like anything else... once you've reproduced and raised your offspring to maturity you don't really contribute anything more to the fitness of the species.
StanFlouride
4.3 / 5 (3) Dec 05, 2011
Considering that we've only recently learned so much about the highly organized social lives of elephants, their sub-audible communications, their obvious sentience, etc., it would seem to be cruel to create just one of a species. If you raise them with elephants they would probably learn to behave like elephants but what would that teach you about mammoths?
If you clone a whole herd, assumably from different corpses, how would they know how to act together?

At best you will have an animatronic version of a mammoth.

Sinister1811
1.6 / 5 (7) Dec 05, 2011
Damn someone beat me to the anecdote of being able to eat mammoth meat, a la certain gary larson comics heheh.

We could even resurrect the mammoth hunt as a human pastime activity.
Yeah, compound cam bows with magnesium risers, Kevlar strings, and tritium sights along with carbon fiber arrows and collapsing stainless steel arrowheads. Just like the old days. Or we could set brush fires with flare guns from helicopters and drive them over cliffs I suppose. Flash bang grenades?


That's a little extreme, isn't it?
CHollman82
1.9 / 5 (9) Dec 05, 2011
That's a little extreme, isn't it?


I took it as him trying to show off about his knowledge of weapons or something... it was an odd comment in any case.
Nerdyguy
3 / 5 (8) Dec 05, 2011
There was a movie like this once. Something about DNA in a mosquito trapped in ancient amber. Hmmm....how'd that turn out? lol
that_guy
3 / 5 (2) Dec 06, 2011
That's a little extreme, isn't it?


I took it as him trying to show off about his knowledge of weapons or something... it was an odd comment in any case.

I took the comment about the compound bows, etc, as a sort of tongue in cheek reference as to how 'hunting for mammoths like our ancestors' wouldn't really resemble the way that our ancestors did it.

If you actually know anything at an introductory level about those weapons, then you would realize that he's trying to make it sound extreme on purpose - not to demonstrate knowledge...It's a mix of mostly common high end elements, and a few made up components.
FrankHerbert
0.9 / 5 (51) Dec 06, 2011
Considering that we've only recently learned so much about the highly organized social lives of elephants, their sub-audible communications, their obvious sentience, etc., it would seem to be cruel to create just one of a species. If you raise them with elephants they would probably learn to behave like elephants but what would that teach you about mammoths?
If you clone a whole herd, assumably from different corpses, how would they know how to act together?

At best you will have an animatronic version of a mammoth.



It very well could be that they had a learned culture that is lost, never to be recovered. I remember reading something similar about a type of extremely endangered tiger. They aren't worrying about it going extinct, but they are worried about it's learned behaviors going extinct.

I'd say the mammoth would probably be in a similar situation. Integrating them into elephant "culture" may be the only option.
that_guy
5 / 5 (2) Dec 06, 2011
If you actually know anything at an introductory level about those weapons, then you would realize that he's trying to make it sound extreme on purpose - not to demonstrate knowledge...It's a mix of mostly common high end elements, and a few made up components.

Correction - those are all real elements. The point is though that we use all this technology and materials science to get 'back to the basics'
Sinister1811
2 / 5 (8) Dec 07, 2011
That's a little extreme, isn't it?


I took it as him trying to show off about his knowledge of weapons or something... it was an odd comment in any case.

I took the comment about the compound bows, etc, as a sort of tongue in cheek reference as to how 'hunting for mammoths like our ancestors' wouldn't really resemble the way that our ancestors did it.


You're probably right, but that wasn't how I saw it. I saw it as a hypothetical plan to brutally murder mammoths. lol
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (17) Dec 07, 2011
That's a little extreme, isn't it?


I took it as him trying to show off about his knowledge of weapons or something... it was an odd comment in any case.

I took the comment about the compound bows, etc, as a sort of tongue in cheek reference as to how 'hunting for mammoths like our ancestors' wouldn't really resemble the way that our ancestors did it.

If you actually know anything at an introductory level about those weapons, then you would realize that he's trying to make it sound extreme on purpose - not to demonstrate knowledge...It's a mix of mostly common high end elements, and a few made up components.
Correct. It was technosarcasm. Except that bowhunting today uses all those refinements. Also laser rangefinders. Radio arrowtrackers. Etc. Exploding heads are illegal.
drel
5 / 5 (2) Dec 08, 2011
If cloning the beast wasn't difficult enough, just imagine the "mammoth undertaking" that would result when the creature dies!
Callippo
1.4 / 5 (5) Dec 08, 2011
Why don't we hear of cloning animals that are endangered?

I see - the Russians found a bone, so they want to use it as an opportunity for getting the priority and as a source grant money by now, the actual results are secondary. We should learn first how to clone an elephant reliably before wasting the only sample we have for adventurous experiments. Just my few cents, these Russian primitives will not listen anybody anyway. http://www2.macle...erosene/
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.1 / 5 (15) Dec 08, 2011
sorry - that got screwded all up-
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.1 / 5 (15) Dec 08, 2011
Why don't we hear of cloning animals that are endangered?
-Because we dont use GOOGLE to look them up?
https://www.googl...=cloning endangered species&gs_upl=0l0l0l3967lllllllllll0&aqi=g4s1

-Still not working o well.
Tausch
1 / 5 (3) Dec 09, 2011
Clone collateral damage to perfection first. When perfected work on extinct cases then.
rawa1
1 / 5 (3) Dec 09, 2011
Still not working too well.
Because we didn't succeed in any such cloning. At the Trans Ova Genetics in Sioux Center, Iowa, USA, a cloned Gaur was born from a surrogate domestic cow mother. However, the calf died within 48 hours. This wild cattle is the only endangered species, we attempted to clone so far. Apparently, if we would wait with cloning of mammoth ten, twenty years our chances would be much higher.
Xbw
1 / 5 (4) Jan 04, 2012
I'll bet the real drive behind the mammoth cloning is making super awesome mammoth coats and selling them on eBay.