thought "Jurassic Park" and the large, reconstructed skeletons seen
in museums were the closest we'd ever come to seeing extinct
creatures come to life, you might want to think again.
Iritani, a professor at Kyoto University in
Japan, is looking to resurrect the woolly mammoth now that a new cloning
technique can make it possible. Not only is it possible, but the woolly mammoth could also be reborn as
soon as four years from now.
woolly mammoth, which is an extinct species of
mammoth that died out 5,000 years ago, has been difficult to
clone up until now because nuclei in cells found in the muscle tissue and skin
of woolly mammoth's located in the Siberian permafrost were severely damaged by
the cold. Many attempts in the 1990's failed because of this.
Dr. Teruhiko Wakayama from the Riken
Centre for Developmental Biology developed a cloning technique
that allowed him to use the cells of a mouse that was frozen for 16 years to
clone a new mouse. This technique has paved the way for new clone-related
opportunities, and has inspired Iritani to resurrect the woolly mammoth.
plans to use this technique to pinpoint healthy nuclei within mammoth cells in
order to extract and use them for cloning.
that the technical problems have been overcome, all we need is a good sample of
soft tissue from a frozen mammoth," said Iritani.
the nuclei, Iritani will travel to Siberia this summer to find samples of
mammoth tissue or skin within the permafrost. If he is unable to locate these
samples, he plans to ask Russian scientists for samples that they have
Iritani obtains the nuclei, he will insert it into an African elephant's egg
cells. The African elephant will be the surrogate mother of the new
success rate in the cloning of cattle was
poor until recently, but now stands at about 30 percent," said Iritani.
"I think we have a reasonable chance of success and a healthy mammoth
could be born in four or five years."
said the process would take at least four years because it will be about two
years before the elephant can be impregnated, and then a 600-day gestation
period is needed.