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

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

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  • by wcrowe ( 94389 ) on Friday March 14, 2014 @09:44AM (#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?

  • The Crichton Diet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Friday March 14, 2014 @09:44AM (#46482025) Journal
    Free-range grass fed mammoth might still taste like elephant, so don't get your hopes up.
  • by Tx ( 96709 ) on Friday March 14, 2014 @10:05AM (#46482227) Journal

    Yeah, considering how many species humans have (directly or indirectly) wiped out, developing the skills to bring some of them back might be prudent.

    " We already extinguished them once, without even the help of gunpowder."

    However I believe the current thinking [slashdot.org] is that mammoths are not amongst our victims, and were wiped out by natural climate change instead.

  • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SecurityGuy ( 217807 ) on Friday March 14, 2014 @10:06AM (#46482239)

    Sure. Woolly mammoths are pretty big. One might even call them mammoth. If one gets out, it won't be that hard to find.

    Besides, we shouldn't be talking about creating a population of these things yet. Lets create one and see how that goes. It's not like it's going to run off into the forest and sprout more.

  • by qazsedcft ( 911254 ) on Friday March 14, 2014 @10:08AM (#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 BergZ ( 1680594 ) on Friday March 14, 2014 @11:19AM (#46483065)
    I was going to make a very similar comment to yours, but the more I thought about it the more the mammoth seems like a good test case.

    It seems to me that we're just starting the testing & experimentation phase of resurrection technology. To be cautious I think we should start testing this new technology on extinct species that meet both of the following conditions:
    (1) Are unlikely to escape captivity (ideally test species should be unable to survive outside specially designed enclosures).
    (2) Are big, lumbering, and slow breeding. Even if such a species somehow escapes captivity (and manages to survive in the wild) we can still hunt them down and eliminate them.

    So far as I know mammoths meet both of these conditions making them good test subjects for resurrection technology.
    "... bringing [the mammoth] into an environment that it was not evolved to handle" - That's a feature, not a bug!

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