[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]
Mammoth Cloning (again)
A wild animal park filled with formerly extinct animals living in their
native environments isn't just the plot for Jurassic Park. It's slowly
becoming a reality.
Japanese scientists are planning to clone a woolly mammoth, adding the
once extinct mammal to an Ice Age wildlife park in Siberia.
As first reported by the Times of London this month, researchers mounted
an expedition to the site of a newly discovered mammoth deep in the
Russian arctic. They believe the specimen was buried in an avalanche as
long as 30,000 years ago.
They plan to salvage soft tissue from the frozen leg and clone it using
the same methods pioneered on Dolly the sheep.
If that fails, the backup plan is to obtain a sperm cell that contains
half of the necessary mammoth DNA and use it to impregnate an Indian
elephant, the closest living species to a mammoth. By breeding that animal
again with sperm from the mammoth, in 50 years researchers could achieve
an animal that is 88 percent woolly mammoth.
"I would be cautious about assuming that [the mammoth's] DNA is in very
good quality," said Duane Kraemer of Texas A&M University. Besides being
on the team that cloned the first pet, a house cat, Kraemer is the
director of "Project Noah's Ark," which helps preserve endangered species,
by taking genetic samples.
Researchers say they've seen mammoth bodies brought out of the ice, but
then mishandled so that the flesh turns to useless mush. Only 100 or so
specimens have been found, but fortunately for entrepreneurs, there may be
up to 10 million mammoths buried in the Siberian permafrost. The odds
aren't bad that someone will eventually find higher quality DNA.
Meanwhile, work continues in northeast Siberia. Planners already have
brought in wild horses and musk ox, which would complete the examples of
fauna. The centerpiece of the exhibit, however, may be a ways away.