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Wooly Mammoth Extracted Intact From Siberian Ice 279

Lawrence_Bird writes ... a group of scientists have extracted a wooly mammoth intact from a Siberian icefield. "They used a radar imaging technique to `see' the mammoth in its icy grave, then excavated a huge block of frozen dirt around it to preserve the 23,000-year-old creature." See the story. Naturally, there's talk of cloning the thing. If the effort succeeds, will McDonald's sell McMammoth burgers?
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Wooly Mammoth Extracted Intact From Siberian Ice

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  • Well, then maybe they can do better with the next one. These things seem to show up every decade or so, so there should be more of them.
  • But even Darwin believed in a Creator God - and he said so himself.

    As for objectivity, I think it's quite fair to say that there are unthinking, knee-jerk types in both camps. (If you think creationists have an exclusive on that, just keep reading this /. discussion and look at some of the anti-Christian anti-creationist hate speech below.)

    It's just simply neither fair nor accurate to say that there are not deep thinking people on both sides. And evolution itself is a dogma at least as strong as that in any religion. (If you doubt this, do some good research on anomalous fossil finds (there are many) and then publish your results - anything that challenges evolution in the slightest is ridiculed in the "scientific" community, regardless of merit.)

    In fact, the only people I know who have done honest, well-balanced reviews of the evidence on both sides happen to be creationists, since, unfortunately, evolutionists tend to dismiss creation as impossible before bothering to look at the facts that support that position.

    Truth is what matters. The point is to seek the truth.
  • While we hear propaganda from both sides of the eco-coin, the truth is the ecosystem is in balance right now. -- I'm just wondering what you're calling 'in balance' -- does anyone know the numbers of 'this many species go extinct every day' that you hear all the time (yes, propaganda, but is it true?)...? Seems like it would be more of a 'balance' if we weren't losing species right and left, and adding a few back into the mix... Just my two cents.
  • But even Darwin believed in a Creator God - and he said so himself.

    This is what Darwin actually said about religion: z/library/cd_relig.htm []

    A short excerpt:
    Everyone who believes, as I do, that all the corporeal and mental organs (excepting those which are neither advantegous or disadvantegous to the posessor) of all beings have been developed through natural selection, or the survival of the fittest, together with use or habit[4], will admit that these organs have formed so that their possessors may compete succesfully with other beings, and thus increase in number.

    Sure Darwin was religious, and sure he did believe in a "Creator God", but only before he set out with the Beagle.
  • Isn't inbreeding pretty much the way of the wild? I know that horses at least (which, given, are NOT mammoths) consistently mated with their own offspring/parents. I don't think that's a stopper as far as repopulating the world with mammoths. What would stop it pretty effectively, however, is the commercial value of the novelty of 'owning' the rights to mammoths in general; Some big corporation will pay to make the clone(s), and get the "rights" to them... I can just picture mammoth regeneration not for the good of the mammoth or for the people in the world who would love to see extinct species alive again, but for the dollar signs in the eyes of a greedy corporation.

    Again, just my two cents.

  • Those of us who watched that show already knew this day was coming, and some possible consequences. :-)
  • But the amazing thing about these frozen
    mammoths is that there must have been a fairly
    mild climate to produce enough veggies to keep
    them going. Then it got much colder so suddenly
    that they didn't rot or get eaten by scavengers
    - and stayed that way since.

    No problem with that. It is well-known that the climate was milder. It certainly didn't change abruptly enough to freeze the mammoths in place though.

    But the ice came, slowly. Glaciers grew a bit from year to year, although the land around them could still support a few mammoths. Now and then a mammoth tried to cross a stretch of ice. A few of them probably fell into cracks and got conserved.
  • It may not be good enough for cloning, but it should allow the police to close the books on a number of unsolved 23,000-year old crime cases.

  • You've never actually SEEN an angry mammoth, have you?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    That wouldn't really be a smart solution because larger animals are less eficient at transforming their food into body mass. That's why chiken, for example, is cheaper than beef; hens eats less per pound of meat they produce.
  • by ez8 ( 29763 )
    Humans have not eradicated any animals from the world, they simply were not fit to survive. Things happen for a reason after all. I see the Wolly Mammoth fit to come back, they look tastey. I want a bbq mammoth tenderloin sandwich.

    As far as reintroduction of this animal bringing back a disease, what if the apollo missions brought back some disease?
  • Woman was formed after man []. See verse 18 through 25. No offense taken. Most creationists are, however, correct to a point in their belief that we "shouldn't play God". Let's consider that when the monks copied the scrolls of the Bible, they would take a bath before writing the name of God. This was out of respect. Similarly, "most creationists" also do not want man to upset God in trying to "take His place" so to speak. I just happen to believe differently. God will reveal all when His Kingdom is at hand.

    SL33ZE, MCSD
  • You know what simultaneously amuses the living hell out of me, and pisses me off incredibly?

    The way slashdot folks will just *pile on* to criticize anyone stating a Christian belief, yet let pass *equally retarded* statements from the luddite/anti-nuke/anti-genetic-science crowd.

    Just for the record, because I'm sure someone will pipe up and squeal that I must be some 'fundie' trying to defend religion, I don't believe in creationism, and I don't think that there's any guiding higher power out there...not God, not Gaia, nothing.

    But watching you oh-so-cool children of the 80s posture and preen as you rip into a religionist, while ignoring the *completely fucking retarded* beliefs of the scientifically ignorant folks that fear genetic manipulation or nuclear power just gets my (non-endangered) goat.
  • That is an excellent question. If you're interested in some speculation, check out Immanuel Velikovsky's Earth in Upheaval.
  • > If you are not the fittest then in time you will die out

    Yeah, let's nuke the Amazon rainforest. The wussy bugs and trees don't deserve to live now that we have the means to obliterate them! It's only a matter of time anyway before they die out anyway.

    > - I don't necessarily hold the same opinion for animals which have been eradicated by humans. Also, I am not the worlds greatest historian and I don't know what it was that killed them off

    OK, this is the score. Wooly mamoths, the European rinocerous and the sabertoothed cat all died out at about the same time that homo sapiens (our great granparents) started wandering about the landscape and throwing spears around. Note that these are all large mamals that would be either tasty to cavepersons (mamoth, rhino) or compete for space in caves and try to eat thier children (sabretoothed cat). Hmm.

    > I don't necessarily hold the same opinion for animals which have been eradicated by humans

    So you should be in favour of bringing back the mamoth. Or perhaps humans "au naturel" before civilisation don't count? You cannot draw lines like that.

    Humankind was, is and always will be a part of nature, and a extinction caused by humans is as "natural" as any other.

    That doesn't mean I won't miss the bengal tiger though. Which life is worth more - a person or a gorilla? Hm, let's see, there are 6 billion people, a few 1000 gorillas in existence. I'd have to go with the gorilla.

  • Clone 'em up real good.

    Think of the novelty...mammoth burgers!

    Max V.
  • Ah, but it's not quite THAT bad. If the subject was of child bearing/siring age (I don't know if it's male or female), then you've probably got a generous ammount of sperm or eggs to work with, which, if I'm remembering my high school biology correctly, already have some variance from the parent built in. Plus this genetic material is better protected than that of the other cells. Plus if the subject is female, you eliminate the (IMHO pointless) debate about mitochondria, because you can use hers directly. And as for keepinng the population stable, well, you can keep infusing "fresh" clones into the population for as long as you want, which would tend to at least keep the population true to its starting point. And if you didn't breed the 'failures' back into the pool, the population would eventually stabilize over many generations. That aside, it's still a massive undertaking, and any race bred from one subject will not be completely true to the original population. But its not as hard as it might seem at first glance. The real question is, as always, what purpose does this serve? What the hell are we gonna do with a bunch of Wooly Mammoths with no real native habitat? Will this accomplish anything besides 1) proving it can be done 2) having some live ones to study 3) adding cool new creatures to the local zoo? -evilWurst
  • paraphrased: 'at a constant temperature of -12C to -13C, (8-9F). Very constant. :)

    Now i'm wondering, what do you do in a power failure? You have a huge, several thousand year old meat pack in your lab freezer, and it begins to I see where the Mickey D's reference comes from. :)
  • If it works, we're just one step closer to that truly authentic remakes of "The Flintstones" and "Clan of the Cave Bear."

    On deck: Sabre-toothed cats.
    In the hole: Stegosaurs, Brontosaurs, and Pterosaurs.


  • by drix ( 4602 )
    do we have to play God? I like my life. My life will be just fine without watching this tortured creature being resurrected in the name of science.
  • Actually, evidence is that primitive humans DID play a significant role in the extinction of the woolly mammoth and quite a few other species -- along the North American west coast, the mammoth's range shrank contiguous with the increase of territory inhabited by prehistoric humans.

  • Didn't we learn anything from Jurasic Park? *grin*

    Nah What the hell, lets clone it and see what city he goes after first. There is the REAL study.

    (My bet is on san fran).

    SL33ZE, MCSD
  • Well, that'll help us map the DNA of the mammoth, but mapping it and finding/producing complete DNA molecules are two different things. To clone the creature, we need the latter.

    I wonder if I'll ever get to try mammoth steak.

  • Didn't we already have a story about this? Maybe I'm just having a serious case of Deja-Vu.

    Anyway, I think this is ultra-cool. To use an elephant to give birth to a mammoth is kind of an interesting idea. I don't think any animal has ever given birth to a child of a different species before. The whole idea is amazing.


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • >I don't think it's possible to know what the
    >longterm effects, of the introduction of
    >geneticly modified creatures, on our environment
    >will be.

    its called evolution. it happens all the time.
  • This is the same beast they plan on cloning in the future. The only fully intact, and mummified mammoth known.
  • the cave where they are working on the mammoth remains at a constant temperature below -freezing. for them to give exact temps i thought would confuse people.
  • It is refreshing to know that we have come to the point technologically, scientifically, and medically that we can begin to re-populate the earth with the animals we brought to extinction. Yes I am aware that we did not bring the woolly mammoths to extinction, but I think there will be other efforts to clone animals we have killed off (the tasmanian wolf comes to mind). It makes you wonder about the Star Trek movie where they have to go back in time for the whales... heheh they could've just cloned one :-)


    Child: Mommy, where do .sig files go when they die?
    Mother: HELL! Straight to hell!
    I've never been the same since.

  • > Using science to prove creation is much better than placing science and God on opposite sides.

    I agree.

    Science explains HOW, Relegion explains WHY.
    2 sides of the same coin ;-)

  • Horse + Donkey = Muel (I think i have the order right)
    Elephant + Mammoth + Scientist = Mammoth
    no wait...... :)
  • actually I don't think he's discovered the mammoth, but he got called in pretty soon, being one of the world's leading experts on mammoths. What's also nice is the fact that it fell on some plants, and those plants seem to have remained reasonably intact (just a little squashed, but that's what you get for laying under a dead mammoth for 3000+ years)

  • ``In April we will return to Khatanga,'' Mol said. They will use a rack of hair dryers to thaw out the block, layer by layer, and examine every speck of plant matter and animals remains they can find in the soil surrounding the mammoth.

    Hair dryers?

    Also catch the link at the bottom: Russian Scientist Denies Whole Mammoth Unearthed []. Some question as to how much of the beast's remains remain; it may be just wool and bones.

  • Dude... so you are saying having a monstrously huge creature grazing about "useless" land isn't going to cause any environmental problems? WTF? These creatures became extinct for a fuckin' reason and the idea that we could have them running about like some pack of new-age cows is absurd. Their sheer size alone would wreak havok on land: their shit would pollute watersheds and their enormous feet would trample ground and cause erosion.

    We already have enough problems with cows and at least they aren't large enough to trample or eat people.
  • I thought neanderthals were vegetarians. Big, flat teeth and all that for grinding instead of cutting. We (australopithecus afarensis?) won out by our ability to subsist on carrion and vegetation alike.

    Hunting was very touch and go in the beginning, with often as many (or more) hunters killed as prey (when dealing with mammoths, at least.

    The technological innovation of the atlatl is believed to have changed this very drastically. The atlatl is a devestatingly simple device which allows a single person to throw a spear with vastly superior accuracy and power than with his or her arm alone.

    The odds were very suddenly reversed, with one man often killing more than one mammoth.

    Must have been a real blast until the population died down, at which point there was probably a lot of suffering due to the vastly increased populations of humans.

    Same old same old!
  • This does not make sense to me... however, although I do not know for certain on this, since we have not heard of other mammoths being found in a condition as good as this particular mammoth it is my assumption that not many are found as well-preserved. Yes, there were likely many mammoths in Siberia... but were all suddenly frozen? Probably not.

  • More likely, the clone or hybrid may not be resistant to our current virii. 3,000 - 23,000 years is forever in microbiology
  • But, duh, that was before they succeeded in getting the carcass out of the ice. Can we have a single freaking slashdot update, once, where some bozo doesn't ask "didn't we talk about this already"?

    Otherwise I'm going to start posting "didn't we talk about this already?" posts in every Linux-vs-Microsoft thread, I swear.

    Sheesh. You'd think people paid to use the place.
    Lake Effect [], a weblog
  • So how long until they're hunted for ivory or for medicinal purposes for the Chinese?
  • You know, with enough of those things, I bet you could make a great beowulf cluster! G
  • There's a really great movie idea in the making here.

    A mammoth, recently resurrected to glorious fanfare and world-wide acclaim, soon finds himself alone in the City, where even the bright lights, the hookers and the orange circus peanuts can't appease the emptiness he feels inside, until suddenly, just when he's just about to end it all by snorting up a drum full of drain-cleaner, he get's a mysterious phone call from a wacky Russian scientist (played by Christopher Lloyd), who turns out to be the one that found his 'mother' in the first place, but who got brushed aside by the media and science establishment alike in the initial fanfare of the find. He's found another carcass, in even better condition than the first, but if the world finds out about it, it could be taken away, and our hero would lose his only chance at finding True Love. The Wacky Scientist has a plan, but no, it's impossible...or is it?...

    This movie proposal is, of course, released and available for use under the terms and conditions of the GPL [].
  • I am sorry pal, but very bad and very dangerous ideas are frequently paid attention once they get enough air-time (take, for example, your friend and mine, Hitler).

    Call it elitist, call it anti-Christian, call it what you like... but when someone even THINKS that Earth is only 6,000 years old I (and everyone else) has a right to call that idea plain...

  • This is probably offtopic, but isn't this exactly what was being done in Jurassic park? There blood from dinosaurs was used to provide DNA, here its a wooly mammoth. What the hell happens if something goes wrong? And this isn't an isolated Cuban island either.
  • Of course if F. It's an American comment. Don't you know they re the only ones that still use that silly imperial system...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The way slashdot folks will just *pile on* to criticize anyone stating a Christian belief, yet let pass *equally retarded* statements from the luddite/anti-nuke/anti-genetic-science crowd.
    The "luddite/anti-nuke/anti-genetic-science crowd" is not trying to infect public education and teach our children that the entire universe is 6000 years old. They are not going onto the radio airwaves and proclaiming that God wants us to butcher homosexuals a dozen at a time. Some beliefs are stupider and more dangerous than others. Some beliefs deserve more vigorous examination than others. And yes, some beliefs deserve to be "piled on."

    (No, I'm not claiming that the beliefs I listed above are held by average Christians. It's not average Christians that come under attack. It's the fundamentalist zealots and their dangerous views. And they deserve attacks. IMHO.)

    -- just another child of the 60's
  • I don't think we need to worry about a population explosion of cloned mammoths bringing on ecological disaster. Remember, these are *clones*, and as such will have the same configuration of X and Y chromosomes as the original organism.

    So, if the one the one they dug up is male, all clones will be male. If it was female, all of the clones will be female. The only way we could get a population explosion would be if we cloned thousands of mammoths. Since the process is difficult and expensive, I don't think that is very likely.

    It will be very interesting to see if a cloned mammoth would be able to interbreed with a modern elephant. Some of these hybrids (like mules) are sterile, but some others are fertile. That's the only way I could imagine herds of mammoths taking over the planet.
  • If you'd have read a little more on the article, they only have a male, ie Mammoth sperm. The article suggest creating a Mammoth-Elephant hybrid using intact sperm, or cloning the existing mammoth with Elephant reproductive parts.

    I think the main reason for this re introductio of a species is for one, to prove we can do it, and two, to provide mankind with another beast of burdon. Sure I think animals should be free to do as they please, but some countries depend on things like this (Note that story about the elephant that stepped on a landmine in Cambodia).

    Regardless, I'd like to see the follow ups on this at it is a useful challenge for "infant technology"
  • Well duh, isn't that what I said. It'll have some initial effect, but it doesn't matter in the long run.
  • Damn, I knew I should have checked before posting! Anyway, point is the same. The Church can be VERY persuasive.
  • We already have enough problems with cows and at least they aren't large enough to trample or eat people.

    Gimme a break. I don't go around fucking eating people. WTF?

    And I resent that comparison with a cow. I've never seen a "new-age cow", nor would I care to. But what I do want is a little respect. :(


  • Ok, kids... let's review:

    Original post says thousands of mammoths found in Siberia. Original post says, "How the hell did thousands of mammoths all freeze at the same time?".

    I then say, "Dude, you are missing steps in logic. Cuz thousands of mammoth remains were found in Siberia, and this particular mammoth was found frozen solid in one piece does not necessarily lead to LOGICALLY to the assumption that ALL of the mammoths were frozen solid after they died in ponds and it snowed quickly thereafter."

    I concede that thousands of mammoths have been foudn in Siberia. I concede that some of them froze. I even concede that it is possible that a "bunch" froze. I DO NOT concede that they all fell dead at once and that they all soon thereafter froze solid.

    A similar (although different) leap of logic can be illustrated with your ice cubes. Over the years I am sure you have frozen thousands of ice cubes, and I am sure that you have also found all of those ice cubes in your freezer. Does that mean your freezer can hold thousands of ice cubes? No.

  • No, but the last time someone has was when we carried around spears and rocks. In this day and age of elephant guns, anti-tank missiles, and napalm, I think the advantage may have shifted just a little bit.

    I loved Jurassic Park, but it's not the gospel. It was an interesting idea extrapolated for entertainment value.

    - Darchmare
    - Axis Mutatis,
  • Satan is dead - Quintron, The amazing spellcaster and one man band
  • There is no Ark. Thus, no one has ever been near it. Everyone dies. How easy an argument you have, thumping your Bible all day long.

  • Ok... you don't eat people... but what do you have to say to the trampling, hmmmmm?

  • Except for Creationists! *rimshot*

  • "And what about a host? An elephant? And is the DNA in tact?"

    There was mention of elephants as possible (and pretty much the only potential) hosts. There was also mention that the DNA might not be in tact but that if it is an elephant egg would likely be used.

  • by Otto ( 17870 ) on Thursday October 21, 1999 @05:32AM (#1597978) Homepage Journal
    Did you notice that the Dolly clone was NOT the same size? There was a BIG size difference. Identical twins are usually about the same size. OK so they shared the same womb and womb environment, but I doubt such a significant size difference can be explained by different womb environments.

    Are you a complete idiot?

    First off, Dolly and Dolly's clone are NOT TWINS! Twins implies birth together. Dolly is two years (?) or so older than the clone. Could this possibly explain size difference? Hmmmm?

    And Mitochondrial DNA has next to no effect on the animal's development. If you really cared, you could have the mDNA identical simply by:

    a) using fertilized eggs from the animal to be cloned to transplant into as well as from (assuming it's female).

    b) same as above, but using fertilized eggs from the mother of the clone to transplant into (since mDNA are passed through the mother's side only).

    Most people agree that it doesn't really matter that much.

  • I have yet to see a creationist review of *anything* that did not assume that the bible was the absolute truth... and then use the contents of the bible to argue their point.

    I haven't seen any evidence at all that would tend to support creationism that doesn't assume the existance of a god.

    Recursive logic just doesn't work. If you could show any evidence (On the 'net... URLs would be nice) that tends to support creationism without the usage of self-referencing logic or not-backed-up asumptions -- that would be nice.

  • Let's go back further, though. Adam and Eve. If all genetic material came from those two people, we'd have been extremely inbred.

    Yet Another Place where the bible goes against logic (don't get me started on where the water from the 'great flood' came from or went).

    - Darchmare
    - Axis Mutatis,
  • Well, I must admit I do enjoy a good trampling. *blush*
  • Pssst... 'Jurassic Park' was a movie. Those dinosaurs? They weren't real.

    (slowly backs away, grabs tranquilizers)


    - Darchmare
    - Axis Mutatis,
  • Hey Hey, I was just asking - I couldn't remember where I read about it. And anyway, this story was a different angle on it. Deal.


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • And evolution itself is a dogma at least as strong as that in any religion.

    That "dogma" is called science. It consists of taking quantitative observations and coming up with a theory to explain them all consistently. Examples of such theories are Newton's theory of gravity, einstein's e=mc^2, Galileo's theories of planetary bodies, etc. The important thing is that the theory has to be *quantitative* AND consistently explain the observation.

    Now, if you call that a dogma, then you're mistaken, for no scientific theory is held on faith. Indeed, many theories are discarded when a better one is discovered which more accurately predicts the universe.

    OTOH, religion is based on faith, and it's not quantitative. That itself makes it totally useless for explaining anything, other than as a means of reassuring your own faith. For example - creationists don't have a consistent, quantitatively established theory. When astrophysics shows us cleary that the Universe is older than 6,000 years, creationists quickly point out that a "year" could be millions of years in the lords viewpoint.

    Just read any of the creationist arguments for "where all the flood water went" for an amusing exercise in bad math.

    Ultimately, you can't compare creationism with any scientific theory because the former is vague and doesn't have to explain anything consistently, while the latter is the opposite.

    Here, let's try this - I hereby propose that the entire universe consists of turtles sitting on other turtles in a recursive array. Now prove me wrong. I can easily come up with vague justifications to brush away any flaw you point out in this theory (why can't we see the turtles? they emit a different wavelength of radiation beyond the visible spectrum).

    See what I mean? You can always start off with a theory, ANY theory, and explain it vaguely.

    Try doing it quantitatively, gimme some URLs (not the comically math-deficient ones with incorrect multiplication), let's see some evidence.

    In fact, the only people I know who have done honest, well-balanced reviews of the evidence on both sides happen to be creationists, since,
    unfortunately, evolutionists tend to dismiss creation as impossible before bothering to look at the facts that support that position.

    Yeah, they also dismiss Islamic scholars , scientologists, rabbis, hari krishnas, and other assorted wise men. We're talking about evidence here, not some airy nebulous theory for the political balancing and appeasing of everyone's sense of importance.

    Don't worry, scientists aren't ignoring you. If you come up with a valid provable theory which stands up to scrutiny, nobody will dismiss it. The problem is that every wacko thinks he has it right and the "scientists are unfairly ignoring my brilliant theory!"


  • I should point out that unlike the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, mammals don't spontaneously change sex.

    Not to mention that these will hardly be breeding out of control even if eventually other mammoths of the opposite sex are cloned. If this species was only nine feet tall as an adult, it couldn't be harder to control than an African elephant.

    Finally, remember we used to hunt these things several thousand years ago. If we could kill them with spears, we can kill them with guns.
  • Actually, Noah had three sons. Ham, Shem, and Japheth. One was black, one white, and the other in between. Biblically speaking, this is when the human species was subdevided into three races.
  • In balance basically means that if we were to sit back, not touch the environment around us (okay, so that would mean that all humans would have to pack their stuff up and leave earth, or a massive, human-only genocide would take place), nature could survive on its own for an indefinate amount of time (barring any natural disasters).

    I don't know how many creatures go extinct each day... My guess is that it's more like a sub-species (say for example, a type of wolf, not an entire species) goes extinct about one sub-species for every month. My numbers are probably way off, but I'm just speculating
  • Not to bust your bubble or anything, but the Neanderthals were not our ancestors, they were our contemporaries, probably driven to extinction by war/competition with homo sapiens or maybe homo sapiens sapiens, depending on what you believe.

    As to mammoths, most theories hold that we (homo sapiens) chased them into North America and finished them off here.

  • Contrary to the post, and some other media reports, it is not a whole mammoth. That was a misquotation.

    See the BBC SciTech article [] for more info.

  • That would be awesome!!! I'd probably find a big bag of coke and snort at least as much as George W. Bush, Jr., did before announcing that what he did or did not do does not matter. Then I'd hang out with my pal the only wooly mammoth left in the world (if I was still alive after all that coke). If my pal Wooly seemed overly lonely and I couldn't figure out any way to help him, then I'd shoot him to put him out of his misery and eat his uncooked flesh with a nice red wine (and some cheese sauce) (cause that's real gourmet) (and definitely no broccoli cause plants have feelings too). After that, I'd start feeling sorry for myself because I was so lonely without other people and I'd think about my creationist god and ask silly questions like why?, and forsaken much?, and got rapture? Who knows what I'd do then .... hmmm, probably play with my other friend but he isn't too responsive without vaginal (though I'm sure anal would work to) orifices.... On second thought, let's not go there. Hypothetical world is a silly place. (you're right drix, it is f*cked up; i should have stopped when i had the chance...) ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh......
  • I suppose a lot depends on how far down the thing was buried. If it was buried far down enough to be relatively free from UV radiation... The freezing ought to have stopped most chemical reactions.

    BTW: This is not the first time they've dug up one of these. The Russians dug one up a couple of decades in Siberia. It must have been in pretty good shape, too, because being less then scientifically minded, they ate it. (Wish I could find a reference to this. This is all from my faulty memory.)
  • Mammoths had large brains and, like elephants, are likely to have been relatively intelligent.

    Thank you, kind sir.

    Indeed, I find these laudable words about my rich culture quite comforting, in comparison with the harsh words and ridicule heaped out, almost as if the wooly mammoth is a freak show for the entertainment of bored cubicle geeks.

    The question is, how would we teach an animal these skills if we have no living examples of how they act in the wild?

    Good question. The answer is - TV. I've found it to be a great source of information, and the stuff I see on Jerry Springer is quite admirable in terms of advanced human techniques at banging into things and trampling around.

    The Wooly Mammoth.
  • What's this "now" sh1t? They've been doin' that for hundreds if not thousands of years!

    Well, no more than 6,000-10,000 years, right?

  • Actually, no, and this is one of the areas where the creationists have a very valid point, especially with the acceptance of the punctuated equilibrium theory among the evolutionists.

    (Punctuated equilibrium (PE) was added to evolutionary theory to address the concern that there are a distinct lack of in-between forms in the fossil record, particularly w.r.t. the Cambrian explosion, where thousands of new species appeared at once with no transitional fossils. PE says that things remain stable for a long time, then something disturbs the equilibrium, and life rapidly adapts completely new forms.)

    If this is true, then species transitions happen relatively quickly, and a very small number of the mutant species would parent an entire family tree. This should, in theory, result in in-breeding/genetic vigor problems. The fact that it doesn't is a point in the creationists favor. On the other hand, an active and perfect Creator would create a perfect example of the species, which would not (at least initially) be subject to the degradations we see as a result of in-breeding today.

    I'm open-minded enough to recognize that *WE DON'T KNOW* how things came to be, and I recognize that both the evolutionists and the creationists have some very valid points. The creationists have in thier favor the fact that thier theory does gracefully explain things that otherwise present significant problems, and the universe certainly seems to show evidence of design. Keep an open mind, and you'll find that the creation theories have thier own strength areas that are different, but at least as compelling as, the evolutionary theories.

    P.S.: Don't know for sure about the water for the flood came from, but you might want to check out this article from last month's New Scientist [] about where they may still be receding... (See, those creationists may not be so kooky as you think!)
  • do we have to play God?

    Because if we don't, WHO WILL? Answer me that, eh?

  • Why would a cloned mammoth be a "tortured creature"? Dolly the sheep seems just fine...


    Child: Mommy, where do .sig files go when they die?
    Mother: HELL! Straight to hell!
    I've never been the same since.

  • I watched a special on the history chan. dealing with mummification in egypt. The problem with trying to get DNA from mummies or other artifacts is that you only get about 150 unit chains at best. That is very small compared to what we can get from the living. I'm scared to think what animals we might have to execute because they "didn't turn out right". Bad/Old DNA will have to be researched more I feal.

    SL33ZE, MCSD
  • by Lord of the Files ( 10941 ) on Wednesday October 20, 1999 @07:02PM (#1598014) Homepage
    Cloning is not perfected by any means. And it's already been determined that Dolly wasn't an exact clone. The mitocondrial DNA (I think this is it) was from the cell that Dolly's DNA was moved into. While the technique used to clone Dolly is supposed to be quite easy, it isn't terribly reliable. And this is with nice fresh DNA. Who knows about stuff from an animal that's been dead for a long time, and not intentionally preserved.
  • I'll agree. I'm one of the most right-wing baptist, "Bible-thumping" believers you'll find. God set certain laws in place on this earth. Just because man creates life from existing life doesn't mean he's "playing God". He is simply using the same principals that God set in motion on this earth to replicate. Furthermore, if you truly believe, as I do, that God created man in His own likeness then you'd realize that this includes the desire to "create". I believe if God didn't intend for this to happen, he would have made it impossible to do what we have thus far. Using science to prove creation is much better than placing science and God on opposite sides.

    SL33ZE, MCSD
  • I hate to say it, but don't be so dogmatic.

    I agree that scientifically provable truths are important.

    But just as creationism (or your turtles) cannot be proven, niether can some aspects of evolution, particularly macroevolution, which is vital for the whole thing to hang together. This bothers me as it should bother any serious-minded inquirer looking at the evidence. Serious creationists don't dispute the overwhelming evidence for microevolution (that is, gasp, they accept scientific fact), but there is a real dearth of evidence for macroevolution. In fact, numerous people have pointed out that microevolution actually works against macroevolution in the following way: mutations that weaken the species tend to result in non-propagation of that mutation, and mutations which strengthen that species tend to ensure it's survival as a species and discourage the large-scale jumps required to create a new species. This is a serious problem that should be seriously evaluated. Current evolutionary theory has no adquate answer to these concerns.

    I freely admit that some creationists try to shoe-horn a few facts around a pre-determined conclusion, resulting in deplorable science and sometimes even worse theology. Some evolutionists do the same, just without the theology.

    But I am open-minded enough to see that the serious creationists raise some very scientifically valid points. Anyone truly believing in the scientific method realizes that they cannot throw out data points simply because they are inconvenient and still expect to arrive at the truth.

    The remainder of your argument is essentially ad hominem, that anyone with a religious worldview is automatically excluded from consideration, which is ridiculous. Also, remember that although science reveals certain truths, our understanding of them is often woefully incomplete, for instance , a hundred years ago, we "knew as fact" that Newtonian physics was true, and yet Einstein, Heisenberg and others have since revealed that virtually none of Newtonian physics is strictly true, but rather only a useful model within certain bounds.

    Finally, on a related note, I strongly disagree with your assertion that only the quantitative is true. There are many things in life which are demonstrably true but which cannot be quantified, including (but not limited to) all things which have an as-yet-undiscovered scientific explanation.

    Science is a very valuable tool, but it is not applicable in all situations, and attempting to force-fit it is a bit like driving screws with a hammer.

    P.S.: Your choice of where the flood waters went was a prticularly bad choice in light of the fact that I included a link in my original post (which you apparently did not read) from the New Scientist (hardly a creationist bastion) that shows the earth is even now losing tremendous amounts of seawater to the interior of the planet. Does this prove the flood? Of course not, but it should make an open-minded person think, at least.
  • Didn't this happen a while back? I think scientists at some special event were served Wooly Mammoth Steak from a preserved one.
  • by William Tanksley ( 1752 ) on Wednesday October 20, 1999 @07:21PM (#1598065)
    Carbon dating showed that it was 3,000 years old, not 20,000 (according to the article). That's in the accurate range of carbon dating, since we have known-age tests from that long ago. (Darn, that was RECENT.)

    I hope they post followups about what they find. That's a BIG freezer out there! What was the diet of the old wooly mammoths? How did this one die? So many cool questions...

  • by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Wednesday October 20, 1999 @07:31PM (#1598070)
    Bringing back the wooly mammoth population is pretty much a statistical impossiblity, even with a subject to clone.

    Why? Well, for starters, it's a subject. Without at least one male and one female, there's not going to be much hope for that species.

    Let's say we overcome that obstacle, though, and engineer a mammoth of opposite gender to the one that was found. You've still got the problem that the mammoths are essentially twins. Mate them, and you've got a handful of inbred mammoths. Actually, this goes beyond inbreeding, because even among siblings there's some genetic variance; between these mammoths there would be none. Eventually you'd get to the point where no mammoths could survive for very long, and the species goes extinct a second time.

    Theoretically you could engineer enough differences into many clones and start the species that way. Just one problem: to do that you have to understand the genome. To understand the genome you need living mammoths, so you're in a chicken-and-egg situation.

    Maybe if scientists found a couple hundred more mammoths, then we might have something feasible. But to try with only one specimen simply isn't going to work.
  • by TheDullBlade ( 28998 ) on Wednesday October 20, 1999 @07:34PM (#1598074)
    Argghh! We've been through this.

    Of course the mitochondrial DNA was from the host cell. They knew it would be and didn't really care. It's not a big thing. Mitochondria are mitochondria, they change tranportable blood fuel into usable cell fuel (I'm just not up to big words like glucose tonight). A mammoth with modern elephant (or cow, or pig, or sheep) mitochondria is a mammoth as far as I'm concerned.

    (now that that's out of my system...)

    The Dolly technique is crusty in other ways, but it should work well enough to get some hairy elephants walking around northern Asia. Well, not quite the Dolly technique... this requires something a little more complicated, but IMHO doable in a year or two with enough money (or ten years from now in somebody's back yard).

    I'd agree with you on the DNA bit, but they've got a whole mammoth. That's one heck of a DNA sample! They should be able to patch up the cracks with that big a sample.
  • Animals have given birth to implanted fetuses of other species. I can't remember the exact details of an example... I think there was a rare type of cat that another cat of a common species gave birth to...
  • Tortured creature? "Resurrected in the name of science?"

    How about resurrected in the name of fuzzy critters with trunks?

    How is the mammoth "tortured"? Because after death he did not rot with the Glory Of Nature? Because pleistocene worms were deprived of a meal?

    I'm all for the cloning. I hope that I shall soon
    see mammoths grazing across the permafrost.

    Wonderful animals, Mammoths...
  • by TheDullBlade ( 28998 ) on Wednesday October 20, 1999 @07:53PM (#1598083)
    While inbreeding can cause problems, often severe ones, it is not a death sentence. You can create an entire population from a single pair of siblings. Release a mating pair of rabbits on an island with no predators and lots of food, and come back in a few years; if you don't find rabbits, you probably won't find anything green either.
  • by e2gle ( 97925 ) on Wednesday October 20, 1999 @07:53PM (#1598084)
    And I'm not talking ethics here...

    Why would you use an infant technology to create copies of dead Mammoths if there was a possibility that they had pure, frozen GAMETES?

    With the in-vitro fertilization we have today,
    Here's a recipe for baby Mammoth:
    Preheat Elephant Uterus to 100 degrees or so,
    1 part frozen Mammoth sperm
    1 frozen Mammoth egg,
    let incubate in a test tube for a short while, place in elephant uterus and let bake for 1.5 years or so.

    We've had the technology to do this for quite some time, again, it's just a matter whether the gamete material has decayed in the past 3,000 years. But from what I know, sperm and eggs are frozen and thawed all the time without damage.
  • ..a fundamental drive amongst scientists everywhere: the urgent need to accomplish something because we can (specifically, to prove this notion), not necessarily because we should (or can even find a useful application of the discovery that would validate the time and effort expended).

    Whether or not the mammoth would be "tortured" is not an argument I care to play into (especially since arguments on such topics seem to be especially shallow), but I might point out that the more animals we are able to clone, the closer we get to cloning an actual human, which is something that certainly sparks a lot of interest among scientists and the world at large.

  • by drox ( 18559 ) on Wednesday October 20, 1999 @08:18PM (#1598095)
    Introducing an element that was once part of [an ecosystem], but is no longer is does just as much harm to an ecosystem as introducing a specimen that has never been there at all.

    That's speculation. The former has never been done before. The latter has been done many times (sometimes deliberately, sometimes inadvertently; sometimes by humans, sometimes by wind, ocean currents, etc.) with varying results.
    Speculation is a good thing - we ought to consider all the possibilities before reintroducing an extinct species - but it's still speculation. It is by no means certain that it will be disasterous, as the introduction on non-native species has frequently been.

    If we re-introduce Wooly Mammoths into nature, we don't know how well they will adapt, and we don't know how well nature will adapt around them.

    True, but consider. Mammoths are much like present-day elephants. Megafauna. Long-lived. Few predators. Slow maturation. Slow reproduction. What population biologists would call K-strategists. Introduced species that become a problem for native ones are almost invariably r-strategists (A notable exception being the most invasive species of all - humans). R-strategists are typically small creatures. Short-lived. Normally subject to intense predation in their native environment. Rapid maturation. Very rapid reproduction. These things combine to give introduced species an edge in their new, predator-free environments. They're not likely to be a problem in the case of wooly mammoths.

    Cloned wooly mammoths would probably not be released into the wild right away, but kept in zoos, or penned up on research farms for study. Given their slow rate of reproduction, it'd be a very long time before there were enough of them to have much of an impact on their environment.

    One more thing - wooly mammoths have probably been extinct for only a few thousand years. As no other creature has appeared to fill the niche previously occupied by the mammoths in that short time, I suspect their reintroduction to Siberia would have little negative impact, assuming they ever were released (or escaped) into the wild.
  • I hope that's feirenhight (sp?), a uterus won't work too well when it's boiled.
  • If I found the correct numbers, we only had 22 condors in 1982 and there's now 120. Given that, a couple of hundred mammoths might be nice, but is likely not required to ensure adequate genetic diversity in a species. No one's saying we should give up on condors... Does anyone have solid data on a minimum number needed? I've read other mammoths have been found in Siberia, so perhaps we're not limited to this one creature's DNA.
  • by psychonaut ( 65759 ) on Wednesday October 20, 1999 @08:45PM (#1598118)
    Actually, to circumvent some of these issues, scientists are considering creating mammoth/elephant hybrids. Sure, they'd be only half-mammoth, but it'd still be cool. Apparently, the whole thing is being financed by wealthy Japanese businessmen. For those interested in exactly how it's going to be done, check out "Cloning the Wolly Mammoth []" which appears in the April 1999 issue of Discover Magazine [] . It was one of the most interesting biology-related articles I've read in months.

    So far as I've read, one of the biggest obstacles in undertaking this whole cloning thing is that it's going to take a long time before we see any results. Assuming we are able to impregnate an elephant with a mammoth or half-mammoth zygote, the gestation period of an elephant is anywhere from 600 to 760 days(!), and it takes ten or twelve years for an elephant calf to reach sexual maturity. Even if everything goes according to plan, we won't know if we have a viable mammoth (or half-mammoth) for well over a decade after conception.


  • by chain ( 22865 ) on Wednesday October 20, 1999 @08:50PM (#1598120)
    You can download the video of them pulling it out and all that at, fairly interesting. []
  • What's wrong with hair driers? I use one whenever I defrost the fridge, and it works really well. Other tools in my arsenal include (but is not limited to):
    • hot water (to provide extra head
    • screwdriver (I don't have a real ice pick)
    • towels (to catch the water)
    • fan (extra air flow)
    Don't knock the humble hair dryer, they can do wonders. Hmmm, thinking of the one in the Space Balls movie, that would rip through my fridge right quick, and wouldn't do too bad a job on the mammoth either.
  • I can only assume this post is flame bait. Elephants are related to mammoths, not directly descended from them.

    Hmm, doesn't evolution say they were several hundred thousand or even a couple million years old? Guess Science has failed and God wins this round yet AGAIN

    I am unsure what science you are using here. Mammoths were an adaptive change dating to the beginning of the last ice age. They died out towards the end, although their may have been a few kicking around still 5-6 thousand years ago.

    BTW, I personally believe the earth is younger than that, like around 6-10 thousand years old.

    Using generational dating from the King James Bible? That's questionable even among die hard creationists. I would suggest you take a closer look at the Talmud before jumping into any strange forays into highly dubious math.

    Oh yeah and all the evidence the universe is billions of years old. I alway find it amazing that people seem to think that God is a rather limited thinker and something as complex and novel as evolution would utterly impossible for him to think up. Exactly why should we trust a text so crusty and old that we can't properly translate the original language. God is a lot smarter than you, me and the guy who wrote the Bible.

  • "Now i'm wondering, what do you do in a power failure? You have a huge, several thousand year old meat pack in your lab freezer, and it begins to defrost......."

    In Khatanga it probably gets a bit colder
    because you don't have the heat from the light
    bulbs. My globe shows 4 places closer to the
    pole, 3 nearby in Russia & Thule Greenland.

    But the amazing thing about these frozen
    mammoths is that there must have been a fairly
    mild climate to produce enough veggies to keep
    them going. Then it got much colder so suddenly
    that they didn't rot or get eaten by scavengers
    - and stayed that way since.

    Do you want to restart your computer now?
  • by smoondog ( 85133 ) on Wednesday October 20, 1999 @09:42PM (#1598142)
    I'm skeptical about cloning ancient things from their DNA. DNA, even more than most macromolecules, needs to be constantly repaired. If you leave DNA sitting around it will slowly lose its properties. For example, UV light causes a process called pyrimidine dimerization where adjacent pyrimidine bases fuse in a specific manner. It is estimated that we have over 10,000 pyrimidine dimerization events that happen every day in our bodies, all of which are quickly and systematically repaired. This is simply one example of a way in which DNA can become damaged if not fixed constantly -- there are others. Something I never hear from the proponents of such techniques is how they get the info INTACT.

    Granted, the DNA may be good enough to do RFLiPs or other restriction enzyme digestion technique and get reasonable data. But, and this is a big but, for a diploid organism to work properly we need (two) copies of each gene that will be used to work. I, as a biochemist, don't believe that we have the ability to isolate two copies of nearly perfect DNA....

    -- Moondog
  • ...I thought the big problem with the Dolly Technique is that they used adult DNA.

    Normal DNA sort of has a time-based self-destruct sequence in it that gets incremented every time it divides ("Threads of the Fates"...). Since Dolly's DNA was from an adult, it had already been "aged", so she appears to have aged more quickly than normal because so many of her cells are timing out while she's still a relatively young sheep.

    I guess this is where the DNA people are working hard. Either DNA has this timebomb turned off, and the cells are called cancers because they never stop dividing, or they have it, and they're "normal", but stop dividing after awhile, and eventually die. Turning this on and off selectively will be the Next Big Thing.

    I guess I see some big implications in "cloned" organs as well. Unless you're cloning your own organs, if you get a liver transplant regenerated from some 78-year old's DNA, and you're only 30, will your new liver start melting down in 20 years? Even if it was cloned from your own cells, there are more than a few divisions to go from a scrape in your mouth to a liver, too...

    While one could argue the "God" aspect of it, there are still lots of practical matters to work out...

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers