Extinct woolly mammoth could walk earth again

by | Sep 24, 2012 | Biz/Tech

The discovery of woolly mammoth fragments raises hope that the extinct species could be cloned. PHOTO COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.

by Jeanette Liu

The concept made popular in the film Jurassic Park, may no longer just be confined to the big screen.

But no need to run, because scientists aren’t planning to bring to life the carnivorous tyrannosaurus rex. Instead, they’re talking about the possibility of resurrecting the now extinct woolly mammoth.

An international team of scientists from Russia’s North-Eastern University may be close to awakening the wooly mammoth species, said a report from the BBC. The team has unearthed hair, bones and other mammoth fragments in Siberia that may contain living cells enabling them to clone the animal.

Scientists said the process of cloning the mammoth is simple if its living cells have indeed been discovered. It’s just a matter of replacing the nuclei of elephant egg cells with those found in the bone marrow of the mammoth, said a report from Discovery News.

“Cloning mammoths are a logical first step because of the ease of doing it,” the curator of Colorado’s Dinosaur Resource Center, Anthony Maltese told Humber News. “It’s not like dinosaur bones where you’re producing entire genetic sequences from 65 to 150 millions years ago.”

The elephant-like hulks used to roam the lands with our ancestors thousands of years ago and were a common sight in North America and Eurasia.

The species died out almost 10,000 years ago.

The X-Prize Foundation, an educational non-profit organization, will award the first team of scientists who breathe life back into an extinct species a “Jurrasic Park prize.”

According to Maltese that’s a lot of work for scientists around the world since “99 per cent of every animal that has lived on this planet is already extinct.”

Maltese said that ancient illnesses should not be a concern to people.

“You’re not going to have to worry about the mammoth coming back and going all Jurassic Park on you,” said Maltese. “You’re not going to be cloning any of the pathogens or viruses and the bacteria that was around back then. You’re just going to be cloning the mammoth itself. You don’t have to worry about introducing or reviving any ancient diseases or anything like that.”