Mammoth fragments from Siberia raise cloning hopes (Update)

Sep 11, 2012
An illustration of the woolly mammoth by artist George Rinaldino Teichman

Scientists have discovered well-preserved frozen woolly mammoth fragments deep in Siberia that may contain living cells, edging a tad closer to the "Jurassic Park" possibility of cloning a prehistoric animal, the mission's organizer said Tuesday.

Russia's North-Eastern Federal University said an international team of researchers had discovered mammoth hair, soft tissues and bone marrow some 328 feet (100 meters) underground during a summer expedition in the northeastern province of Yakutia.

Expedition chief Semyon Grigoryev said Korean scientists with the team had set a goal of finding living cells in the hope of cloning a mammoth. Scientists have previously found bones and fragments but not living cells.

Grigoryev told the online newspaper Vzglyad it would take months of research to determine whether they have indeed found the cells.

"Only after thorough laboratory research will it be known whether these are living cells or not," he said, adding that would take until the end of the year at the earliest.

Wooly mammoths are thought to have died out around 10,000 years ago, although scientists think small groups of them lived longer in Alaska and on Russia's Wrangel Island off the Siberian coast.

Scientists already have deciphered much of the genetic code of the woolly mammoth from balls of mammoth hair found frozen in the Siberian permafrost. Some believe it's possible to recreate the prehistoric animal if they find living cells in the permafrost.

Those who succeed in recreating an extinct animal could claim a "Jurassic Park prize," the concept of which is being developed by the X Prize Foundation that awarded a 2004 prize for the first private spacecraft.

Explore further: Archaeologists, tribe clash over Native remains

4.9 /5 (21 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Japan, Russia see chance to clone mammoth

Dec 04, 2011

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.

Mammoth find in Germany

Aug 21, 2012

Workers digging on the underground network in the western city of Duesseldorf have uncovered a 34-kilogramme (76-pound) woolly mammoth tusk over 10,000 years old, city officials said on Tuesday.

A mammoth task -- sorting out mammoth evolution

May 30, 2011

Mammoths were a diverse genus that roamed across Eurasia and North America during the Pleistocene era. In continental North America, at least two highly divergent species have long been recognized – woolly ...

Recommended for you

Archaeologists, tribe clash over Native remains

1 hour ago

Archaeologists and Native Americans are clashing over Indian remains and artifacts that were excavated during a construction project in the San Francisco Bay Area, but then reburied at an undisclosed location.

User comments : 14

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

verkle
1 / 5 (8) Sep 11, 2012
100 meters underground? How did they ever get buried so far down?
kochevnik
3 / 5 (3) Sep 11, 2012
There is a story about mammoths being chased over cliffs by hunters for their meat. That would make a big DNA trove.
robbor
3 / 5 (1) Sep 11, 2012
poachers will love this one
NOM
3.7 / 5 (6) Sep 11, 2012
100 meters underground? How did they ever get buried so far down?

... Um, 10,000 years of snowfall?

I can see that creationists are going to have a few issues when scientists manage to revive a species that went extinct millenia before their holy book says the world was created.
tekram
2 / 5 (2) Sep 11, 2012
It is easier to breed Indian elephants to have hypertrichosis and call it woolly. What is the fascination with woolly mammoth when hundreds of species go extinct every year and we can still do something about it?
sirchick
2 / 5 (4) Sep 12, 2012
Question, is it really wise to bring Mammoths back from the dead.. can we truely measure the effect on nature's balance currently?

Other than more profits in Zoo's - is it not wise to let what is extinct to stay there.

I'm not saying we shouldn't for science but - nature is very delicate to even the smallest change (Hense things like food bans on flights).
Shakescene21
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 12, 2012
@Sirchick -- It is morally right to bring back mammoths, since humans exterminated the species through over-hunting. Mammoths were part of the the ecosystem for millions of years until humans developed efficient techniques to slaughter large meaty mammals. I'm sure there are still vast areas in Siberia and Alaska where mammoths and the environment can prosper together.
sirchick
3 / 5 (2) Sep 12, 2012
@Sirchick -- It is morally right to bring back mammoths, since humans exterminated the species through over-hunting. Mammoths were part of the the ecosystem for millions of years until humans developed efficient techniques to slaughter large meaty mammals. I'm sure there are still vast areas in Siberia and Alaska where mammoths and the environment can prosper together.


It would be nice to see them alive and well - but I still think its risky...we have wiped out many animals in our human existence =/
Mastoras
5 / 5 (1) Sep 12, 2012
creationists are going to have a few issues when scientists manage to revive a species that went extinct millenia before their holy book says the world was created.

Not necessarilly. I think they will have no problem at all. How are we going to convince them that this animal was extinct for 10 thousands years, and not for four or five thousands years?

They manage to survive tons of petrified sceletons and lots of books explaining evolution. They manage to survive thousands of ancient and old manuscripts, showing the many problems with the transmission of the Biblical text. They will manage. The human mind is infinite.
Mastoras
5 / 5 (2) Sep 12, 2012
@Sirchick
food bans on flights


Um, what? "food bans on flights"?
NOM
3.5 / 5 (4) Sep 12, 2012
Mammoth meat isn't banned on flights, as being extinct it isn't endangered. Might be a bit past its use-by date though.
packrat
3 / 5 (3) Sep 15, 2012
What happened to the entire baby mammoth they found frozen last year? That should have more than enough material for them to work from.
Shootist
1 / 5 (3) Sep 16, 2012
Question, is it really wise to bring Mammoths back from the dead.. can we truely measure the effect on nature's balance currently?

Other than more profits in Zoo's - is it not wise to let what is extinct to stay there.

I'm not saying we shouldn't for science but - nature is very delicate to even the smallest change (Hense things like food bans on flights).


Get over yourself. The planet gets regularly whacked by kilometer diameter bolides, Ice Ages every 15,000 years, the occasional nearby supernova, gamma ray bursts and continent sized lava flows.

There is NO balance. What is normal today is yesterdays disaster.
VendicarD
4 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2012
Such profound ignorance.

"Ice Ages every 15,000 years" - ShooTard

More news stories

Male-biased tweeting

Today women take an active part in public life. Without a doubt, they also converse with other women. In fact, they even talk to each other about other things besides men. As banal as it sounds, this is far ...

Archaeologists, tribe clash over Native remains

Archaeologists and Native Americans are clashing over Indian remains and artifacts that were excavated during a construction project in the San Francisco Bay Area, but then reburied at an undisclosed location.

Math modeling handbook now available

Math comes in handy for answering questions about a variety of topics, from calculating the cost-effectiveness of fuel sources and determining the best regions to build high-speed rail to predicting the spread ...

Cyber buddy is better than 'no buddy'

A Michigan State University researcher is looking to give exercise enthusiasts the extra nudge they need during a workout, and her latest research shows that a cyber buddy can help.