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Japan Science Idle

Russian Scientists Say They'll Clone a Mammoth Within 5 Years 302

Posted by samzenpus
from the pleistocene-park dept.
Many scientists (mainly Japanese and Russian) have dreamed of cloning a mammoth over the years. When the mammoth genome was partially reconstructed in 2008, that dream seemed a bit closer. Besides the millions of dollars needed for such a project, the biggest hurdle was the lack of a good sample of mammoth DNA. That hurdle has now been cleared, thanks to the discovery of well-preserved bone marrow in a mammoth thigh bone. Russian scientist Semyon Grigoriev, acting director of the Sakha Republic's mammoth museum, and colleagues from Japan's Kinki University say that within 5 years they'll likely have a clone. From the article: "What's been missing is woolly mammoth nuclei with undamaged genes. Scientists have been on a Holy Grail-type search for such pristine nuclei since the late 1990s. Now it sounds like the missing genes may have been found."
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Russian Scientists Say They'll Clone a Mammoth Within 5 Years

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  • by 0123456 (636235) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @03:25PM (#38283450)

    Lets give birth to an Ice Age animal during earths period of global high heat.

    Today isn't particularly hot, even by the standards of the time since the last ice age, and much of Russia is often extremely cold.

    In any case, the next ice age should be along at some point in the next few thousand years, so we might as well get prepared. A mammoth will be much more useful as transport than a Prius when the planet is covered with mile-thick ice and the temperature is permanently below zero.

  • Wired (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kodiaktau (2351664) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @03:26PM (#38283458) Journal
    Wired Mag had their article about this back in September. [wired.com]
    I believe this to be an ethical issue that really needs to be thought through before folks go off tinkering with genes. As the article calls out, do we know what the impact to an ecosystem where a species like this is released? What about natural predation? In a broader sense, what is the real value in cloning something that was selectively removed from the environment? Hell we cannot even keep from releasing invasive species to control other species without completely screwing it up. This process does nothing more than allow a scientist to study an animal that doesn't exist by bringing it into existence.
  • Re:Steak (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @03:39PM (#38283632)
    Of course they taste great. We hunted them to extinction!
  • Re:Wired (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ChrisMaple (607946) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @03:43PM (#38283686)

    Mainland mammoths were killed off by humanity before, without really trying. We can do it again. It will not become an expanding species with a notable effect on the ecosystem unless we help it to do so. In short, don't get upset over a non-issue.

    (I say mainland because I've read that the last mammoths were isolated on an island and died off after many generations of becoming smaller to match a declining food supply.)

  • Re:I wonder (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lennier1 (264730) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @03:50PM (#38283792)

    Who cares? They lose focus once you jump into a river anyway.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @03:54PM (#38283842)

    Lets give birth to an Ice Age animal during earths period of global high heat. They couldn't survive the end of the last ice age. So lets bring them to life and stick them in a post/anti-Ice Age environment... Brilliant!

    We are currently in an ice age [wikipedia.org]. Mammoths died out very recently about 4,500 years ago. The world was pretty much the same back then.

  • Re:Old news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @04:15PM (#38284122) Homepage

    Obligatory xkcd [xkcd.com] explaining the nature of that problem.

  • Re:Ice Age Park (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @04:18PM (#38284146) Homepage

    Or you could just clone the one indefinitely. It's already being done in other animals. The important of genetic diversity should not be forgotten, though in the case of an extinct animal, it's probably not the primary concern.

  • Re:Ice Age Park (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @04:52PM (#38284594) Homepage Journal

    "Can" and "Should" are seldom in agreement.

    How cruel this would be, cloning an individual or two.

    If the Mammoth is anything like the Elephant, it has a sophisticated intelligence and psychology - intimately linked with the social and familial bonds in its herd.

    A lone mammoth or two, without mature, bonding mdels? It is similar to breeding a captive human on a distant asteroid, from an in vitro culture.

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