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Mammoth Cloning Attempt
Back in the news again...
Scientists hoping to clone prehistoric woolly mammoths are preparing
their first frozen DNA samples in a bid to revive the species.
The specimens of bone marrow, muscle and skin were unearthed last August
in the Siberian tundra where they had been preserved in ice for thousands
Researchers at the Gifu Science and Technology Centre and Kinki University
want to use the genetic material in the cells to clone a woolly mammoth,
according to Akira Irytani, a scientist at Kinki University in western
First they must determine whether the five specimens airlifted from Russia
are really from mammoths. If so, they must decide whether the DNA locked
inside is well enough preserved to self-replicate. After that, it could
take several years to actually produce an animal. "There are many
different problems to overcome," the Gifu Centre's Hideyoshi Ichibashi
said. "I think we can move ahead only one step at a time."
So far, no cells bearing cloning-quality DNA have been found. The initial
plan called for finding mammoth sperm cells, which could be used to
inseminate a modern day elephant and create a mammoth-elephant hybrid. But
no sperm cells have been found, and other samples retrieved during
previous excavations, including legs buried under permafrost, have turned
out to be left unusable by time and climate changes.
Dr Irytani was more hopeful about their samples, estimated at 20,000 years
old, saying they had been well preserved in the ground at about -20C