Mammoths In Five Years?

Japanese researchers are starting a project to clone mammoths; they hope to have live baby mammoths within the next five years. Early plans to do this were given up; recent developments in retrieving mouse DNA from samples frozen for more than fifteen years have put this project back on the front burner.

"Preparations to realise this goal have been made," Akira Iritani, leader of the team and a professor emeritus of Kyoto University, told the mass-circulation daily.

Under the plan, the nuclei of mammoth cells will be inserted into an elephant's egg cells from which the nuclei have been removed to create an embryo containing mammoth genes, it said.

The embryo will then be inserted into an elephant's womb in the hope that the animal will eventually give birth to a baby mammoth. Researches hope to achieve their aim within five to six years, the Yomiuri said.

The team, which has invited a Russian mammoth researcher and two US elephant experts into the project, has already established a technique to extract DNA from frozen cells.

Fans of John Varley may recall his 2005 novel Mammoth in which a billionaire also makes plans to create a living mammoth from DNA retrieved from frozen mammoth remains.

An earlier use of this idea is found in Jurassic Park. Michael Crichton popularized the idea of using dinosaur DNA taken from mosquito-like insects trapped in amber to create a Jurassic Park of recreated dinosaurs.

Via AFP; thanks to Thomas Gagnon for the tip and the reference for this story.

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