Attack of the Mammoth Clones?

When they bring this fella back from the dead, he's going to have some major scores to settle.<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/10676369@N07/5382252835/">e_monk</a>/Flickr

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Try figuring out if this is an excerpt from an AFP story that ran on Saturday, or the synopsis for a certain 1993-Steven-Spielberg-popcorn-movie-turned-amusement-park-ride:

Scientists from Japan and Russia believe it may be possible to clone a mammoth after finding well-preserved bone marrow in a thigh bone recovered from permafrost soil in Siberia, a report said…

Teams from the Sakha Republic’s mammoth museum and Japan’s Kinki University will launch fully-fledged joint research next year aiming to recreate the giant mammal, Japan’s Kyodo News reported from Yakutsk, Russia…[T]he discovery in August of the well-preserved thigh bone in Siberia has increased the chances of a successful cloning. Global warming has thawed ground in eastern Russia that is usually almost permanently frozen, leading to the discoveries of a number of frozen mammoths…

Now, I think I’ve seen this movie before…and I distinctly recall Jeff Goldblum getting brutalized by a large dinosaur.

But in all seriousness (since the Jurassic Park angle has already been done to death on this story) the report is just the latest in the teams’ efforts to bring the animal back from extinction—a phase that the species of tusked mammal have dabbled in for about 100 centuries.

The clone-a-furry-prehistoric-creature formula, according to researchers, is as follows:

  • Swap out the nuclei of egg cells from an elephant for ones taken from the frozen mammoth’s marrow cells, thus creating embryos with mammoth DNA.
  • Plant those special embryos into the wombs of a bunch of elephants.
  • Each elephant—a close relative of the mammoth—delivers the resurrected-mammoth baby in roughly 22 months.

That’s the same method that Dr. Teruhiko Wakayama used in 2008 to clone a mouse from the cells of another mouse that had been preserved in deep-freeze for over 15 years. The discovery in August of a mammoth thigh bone in Siberia gives the Japanese and Russian scientists hope that they can achieve their goal within the next five years.

The involved researchers and academics are no doubt gearing up for the inevitable PR maneuvers. Not only will criticism pour in targeting the cost-to-practicality of the project (a similar project to clone mammoths at Penn State involved machines costing half-a-million bucks a pop); scientists will also face questions regarding the slippery-slope/playing God factor.

And it doesn’t help that the only things most of us know about the complexities of cloning come directly from what we’ve seen in action movies. And Hollywood does harbor a strong anti-cloning bias, especially when it comes to:

Corporate America trying to kill Arnold

The worst Star Wars characters imaginable

 And Hitler(s)!

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate