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Cloning Woolly Mammoths From 40,000 Year Old Ice Age Remains

Cloning a woolly mammoth can be the next big bizarre thing to reach the news. Tori Herridge a plaeobiologist from London’s Natural History Museum, will head a team of documentary filmmakers on an hour long television program that will not only investigate, but inform the world if in fact, the well-preserved, frozen carcass of a wooly mammoth discovered last year in Siberia can have its DNA extracted and cloned into a living, breathing, fully functional wooly mammoth.

Some may consider the dream of creating life from the deceased a ghoulish and macabre nightmare. The notion invokes vivid mental images of mad scientists screaming, “IT’S ALIVE!”, to heavens in decrepit stone towers or in secret rooms full of glass test-tubes and electronic diodes; throwing fantastic blue sparks into the ethereal. These dreams that intertwine our reality is not just plots of horror stories and the imaginations of foolish boys, but a scientific breakthrough that may be ascertained within our life span.


Photo credit: BBC/Daniel Rasmussen

In May of 2013, Russian scientist discovered the ancient remains of a complete mammoth. The specimen has been noted to be extremely well-preserved after spending an estimated 40,000 years secretly cocooned in the Siberian tundra.

The carcass of the mammoth, who was later named “ButterCup” by scientists, was transported to the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in south Korea.

Two teams of scientists have developed two different plans for “Buttercup”. One Team is attempting to withdraw DNA from the mammoth and infuse it in an egg from a living elephant, stimulating cellular mitosis and finally placing the fertilized egg into a foster elephant mother for the course of the gestation. Scientists speculate positive cloning results from this plan as early as 2045.

The Second plan,which promises sooner results, is to cut pieces of “Buttercup’s” DNA and splice them into the elephant genome to create a hybrid mammoth/elephant that would have numerous mammoth traits; such as the classic mammoth fur or a resistance to freezing temperatures, to name a few.

The Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in south Korea is both a non-profit research organization specializing in animal cloning and stem cell research, but a facility that one can bring a deceased or living dog to, to have it cloned.

The program will be aired on the British channel 4 on November 23, under the name “Wooly Mammoth: The Autopsy” and on the United States Smithsonian Channel on November 29 as “How to Clone a Wooly Mammoth”. Both Programs will be similar, but not exactly the same.


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