Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

43,000-Year-Old Woolly Mammoth Remains Offer Strong Chance of Cloning 187

Posted by Soulskill
from the looking-forward-to-mammoth-steak dept.
EwanPalmer sends a followup to a story from last year about a team of Siberian scientists who recovered an ancient wooly mammoth carcass. It was originally believed to be about 10,000 years old, but subsequent tests showed the animal died over 43,000 years ago. The scientists have been surprised by how well preserved the soft tissues were. They say it's in better shape than a human body buried for six months. "The tissue cut clearly shows blood vessels with strong walls. Inside the vessels there is haemolysed blood, where for the first time we have found erythrocytes. Muscle and adipose tissues are well preserved." The mammoth's intestines contain vegetation from its last meal, and they have the liver as well. The scientists are optimistic that they'll be able to find high quality DNA from the mammoth, and perhaps even living cells. They now say there's a "high chance" that data would allow them to clone the mammoth.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

43,000-Year-Old Woolly Mammoth Remains Offer Strong Chance of Cloning

Comments Filter:
  • Can't wait (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14, 2014 @08:39AM (#46481977)

    For mammoth burgers.

  • by wcrowe (94389) on Friday March 14, 2014 @08:44AM (#46482017)

    I suppose the idea of cloning a 43,000-year-old mammoth would be the kind of thing that would attract funding, but from a purely scientific standpoint, wouldn't you start out small and try to clone, say, a dead chicken first, just to see if the process actually worked?

    • by MBGMorden (803437)

      Its not as if they cloning lab gets charged by the pound. If they've got better preserved mammoth DNA then clone that - the final size of the animal is sort of irrelevant.

      • by wcrowe (94389)

        I didn't mean literally the size of the animal. What I meant is that there is only going to be so much 43,000-year-old DNA to go around. You wouldn't want to waste it on a process that didn't work. You'd want to start out small, with a dead, frozen chicken that had been on ice for a year or so. Extract its DNA, and then see if you could get a live chicken out of it.

      • by magarity (164372)

        Its not as if they cloning lab gets charged by the pound.

        The heck they don't; any idea how much a mammoth eats?!

      • ...the final size of the animal is sort of irelephant.

        FTFY.

    • I suppose the idea of cloning a 43,000-year-old mammoth would be the kind of thing that would attract funding, but from a purely scientific standpoint, wouldn't you start out small and try to clone, say, a dead chicken first, just to see if the process actually worked?

      We already know cloning works. Welcome to the 1990s. Sorry about your internet connection.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14, 2014 @09:01AM (#46482181)

      There is no point in cloning a chicken. We already _know_ what chicken tastes like.

    • by wiredog (43288)

      People have been cloning mammals for 20 years now.

    • by qazsedcft (911254) on Friday March 14, 2014 @09:08AM (#46482259)
      We have been able to clone several species already. That's not the problem. The problem is that you need a surrogate mother for the embryo and the closest we have is the African elephant, which separated from the mammoth a long time ago. From TFA it seems they are already working on cross-species clones but they are still a long way off.
      • by bigpat (158134)

        The problem is that you need a surrogate mother for the embryo and the closest we have is the African elephant, which separated from the mammoth a long time ago.

        Seems there are enough examples of using surrogate mothers of a similar/related species to think that if you can create a viable embryo then the surrogacy might be successful.

      • We have been able to clone several species already. That's not the problem. The problem is that you need a surrogate mother for the embryo and the closest we have is the African elephant, which separated from the mammoth a long time ago. From TFA it seems they are already working on cross-species clones but they are still a long way off.

        That may seem like a victory but it's really just scratching the surface. Once you have cloned a mammoth what then? To establish a viable population you need genetic diversity, a minimum founder population of 50-100 individuals that should preferably be as distantly related as possible. The up side of a project like this is that if we can solve the problem do cloning a mammoth it we can start harvesting the DNA of many individuals of species like tigers and rhinos that are about to be become extinct thanks

        • by Kjella (173770)

          That may seem like a victory but it's really just scratching the surface. Once you have cloned a mammoth what then? To establish a viable population you need genetic diversity, a minimum founder population of 50-100 individuals that should preferably be as distantly related as possible.

          Keep cloning them from the same DNA sequence for zoos and such? Wildlife that's threatened by extinction because of us is fine, reintroducing wildlife that died out many thousands of years ago due to natural selection seems like an overall bad idea. Despite there being cave paintings of them, there's no place on current day earth where they belong in the natural environment. And even if we could set up such a preserve it'd have to be huge to function.

    • by nucrash (549705)

      I have to admire the technology behind cloning, but to clone a dead chicken is one thing, but cloning some dead mammal would be a better example. Whether this be a rat or something of that nature, we need to consider what we are doing. How do we gestate that clone? Japan is working on technology to carry a human fetus to term, this should be adapted to larger creatures.

      Yes, I know a seeded comment says that size is irrelevant, but I have to counter that point and say, "Size is very important."

      If we spend

    • It is small...compared to a brontosaurus. Everything's relative.

  • The Crichton Diet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rmdingler (1955220) on Friday March 14, 2014 @08:44AM (#46482025)
    Free-range grass fed mammoth might still taste like elephant, so don't get your hopes up.
    • by DarkOx (621550)

      I don't know. These things were basically hunted to extinction. So they may be pretty delicious or it might just be that a Mammoth hunt was a comparatively easy way to get the whole tribe fed all at once, with left overs to store.

      • by magarity (164372)

        I don't know. These things were basically hunted to extinction. So they may be pretty delicious or it might just be that a Mammoth hunt was a comparatively easy way to get the whole tribe fed all at once, with left overs to store.

        For people who lived on the prehistoric tundra, anything they could get was pretty delicious.

    • That's what breeding is for.

  • I predict that the cloned animal will be possessed by either the Devil or some other evil spirit.

  • by u38cg (607297) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Friday March 14, 2014 @09:01AM (#46482183) Homepage
    Hot pan, salt, pepper, enquiring minds want to know.
    • Tasted like chicken obviously, which would explain why they all got eaten.
      • In other news, scientists have determined that the smaller-sized and shorter-lived (faster generations) organism known as the "chicken" has successfully adapted and thereby avoided excinction, by changing its flavor to something resembling elephants.
  • Off topic, but if you're into making stuff like I am... the only legal way to get ivory anymore (besides an insane permitting process) is tusks dug up from mammoths in the arctic. I suspect that if they start re-introducing them to the wild, that will become illegal to... which would be super lame. Also, the ivory found in bogs and such usually absorb minerals and stuff making it very unique looking.

    • by Greyfox (87712)
      Well once we get good at this we COULD just grow the tusk part, in 3' by 3' cubes. Then you could glue a bunch of them together to make a minecraft-style ivory castle.
  • Seems logical (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kokuyo (549451) on Friday March 14, 2014 @09:09AM (#46482271) Journal

    We can't keep elephants and rhinos alive, so let's clone us some mammoths...

  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Friday March 14, 2014 @09:18AM (#46482349)
    Well, obviously the melt of the ice age and all the the global warming problems since then were started off by Woolly Mammoth farts and now they want to bring them back?
  • The end game (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paiute (550198) on Friday March 14, 2014 @09:20AM (#46482373)
    They need to clone dwarf mammoths and sell them as house pets.
  • Will we be able to ask it questions about life 40,000 years ago? This is very exciting.
  • Other than the coolness factor, what is the point to cloning an animal that nature made extinct? Is Siberia really incomplete without pachyderms?
  • I'm equally interested in cloning its last meal.

  • Living cells - no way. Even if frozen for a few seconds cell die. That's what 'frostbite' is, then your fingers/toes/nose turn black and falloff... And saying it's better preserved than something buried for 6 months! Wow - things rot in my fridge in days.
    • I have personally frozen cells in a step-down freezer, then submerged them in liquid nitrogen for years, taken them back out, thawed them, implanted them, and had them grow. So...way.

      • by sackbut (1922510)
        Let me correlate your experience with this story: Likely dead before freezing, nope. Cells in culture - nope. Step down freezer - nope. Liquid nitrogen storage: nope. And unless you are a vampire or alien, your have not stored them for 43,000 years...
    • See cryopreservation [wikipedia.org] and suspended animation [wikipedia.org]. Not only is it possible - it's been done. It's not the temperature itself that kills cells, it's the effects of lowering the temperature that causes damage. If you can mitigate these effects (such as the formation of ice crystals), you can prevent cell death.

      And you might want to turn the temp down in your fridge.

      • by sackbut (1922510)
        It is possible, and it has been done. But it takes a specialized organism (bacteria, maybe frogs, some insects) or some way to prevent ice crystal formation... And a mammoth dis not have this advantage. Your references require some quite advanced technology that was not around (that I know of) 43000 years ago. A nicely frozen steak is not viable tissue.
  • I can't wait for Mammoth wool for next winter, or the spring's fresh and cool nights.

  • by whitroth (9367)

    That was the one that got away from me as a kid, herding them, and I was punished for loosing her. They belonged to us, and so any offspring are *mine*.

    And you kids these days, think spring is bad when the dogs and cats start shedding, we needed *rakes* when out mammoths started shedding....

                        mark "and my folks still had the bones of the dinosaurs they helped get rid of...."

  • The fact that they have the liver and last meal are very promising. It seems likely that the flora of a mammoth's gut were different from those in a modern-day African elephant's. We are all super-organisms, you know, and an inoculation with a little of its own poop in infancy could set up the appropriate flora. The researchers can also figure out what exactly the mammoth liked to eat.

    More problematic, I imagine, is mitochondria, etc. Cross-species cloning puts DNA from one beast into the cells (facto
  • First off, no one has ever cloned an actual living elephant. Horses have been cloned by implanting a cell nucleus from a living cell in a host egg cell and then implanting that in a surrogate mother. That process results in about 1 viable embryo for every 1,000 attempts so it is hardly a sure thing. In TFA however, they are talking about taking a nucleus from a 43,000-year-old frozen cell and implanting that in an egg cell of another species and then implanting the hoped for embryo into a living elephant
  • Seems to me that they should be finding plenty of mamoth in greenland and north america. Perhaps we are not looking as much as we should.

Always draw your curves, then plot your reading.

Working...