Monday, January 17, 2011

Cloning Mammoths

Japanese researchers will launch a project this year to resurrect the long-extinct mammoth by using cloning technology to bring the ancient pachyderm back to life in around five years time.

The researchers will try to revive the species by obtaining tissue this summer from the carcass of a mammoth preserved in a Russian research laboratory, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

They plan to transplant a whole cell nucleus from a frozen mammoth into an elephant egg cell. This may not work, but if it doesn't, somebody else will succeed using DNA splicing technology. Those frozen mammoths contain all the DNA we could ever need, and mammoths and living elephants are probably closely enough related for cloning to work. My feeling about this is that it doesn't really matter if it a good idea or not, because somebody is going to do it, and from then on everything will depend on how life goes for the first few mammoths. If they thrive, we will have brought back the first of the thousands of species whose extinction we have caused, directly or indirectly. I think that would be a good thing.

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