Scientists Announce Plans to Clone Woolly Mammoth

Kinda, sorta, maybe?


Gabriel Pore, Staff Reporter

When the woolly mammoth went extinct 10,000 years ago, that was the end for the species. Fast forward to 2003 when scientists in Spain used so called “de-extinction” techniques to bring back a mountain goat called a bucardo. This brought the attention to many scientists. If a goat can be resurrected from history, why can’t a mammoth?

According to the BBC, Harvard geneticist George Church has said that within two years the mammoth species should be “back from the dead.”

A palaeontologist named John Hawks said that the people who touted the revival of the mammoth were engaging in “fake news”–that is, the hype far exceeds the actual animal that will result.

The process of cloning, is fairly simple, first is a single mammoth cell. Then a incubation process for the cell to divide and reproduce (mitosis). In the final stage of this cloning process, scientists are taking the cells , then injecting them into the Asian Elephant.

The only thing is that the result is not one hundred percent mammoth. It’s more like a elephant cell combined with a mammoth cell. The scientist are putting small amounts of mammoth cells into the Asian elephant, its closest living relative.

Helen Pilcher is a former cell biologist, and now a journalist who covers this de-extinction issue in the sciences. She said when the team of scientists cloned the bucardo “The animal only stayed alive for a few short minutes.”

Church is a geneticist, and clarifies, “Our aim is to produce a elephant-mammoth embryo.” He explained to the Guardian (UK), “Actually it would be more like a elephant with a number of mammoth traits.”

Instead of cloning a extinct animal, scientists are shooting for producing a “mammophant”, a hybrid mammoth and elephant. The scientist who do this use a tool that can “snip and slice” mammoth DNA, and use the mammoth traits such as, thick fur, fat, and cold-resistant blood.

This animal could be brought back to life within the next four years, is what peer scientists are saying. Not guaranteed, but it is looking very promising for scientists, and the world.  The only real obstacles, according to Pilcher, are “time and money.”

Even though a woolly mammoth would be right at home in Northern New York, it seems that so far no one is asking the Jurassic Park question: should we bring extinct animals back at all?