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– The Management –
Saved from Extinction?
The largest known species, the Songhua River mammoth (Mammuthus sungari) , reached heights of at least 5 metres (16 ft) at the shoulder. Mammoths would probably normally weigh in the region of 6 to 8 tons, but exceptionally large males may have exceeded 12 tons. However, most species of mammoth were only about as large as a modern Asian elephant.
However, it may now be possible for mammoths to once again, roam the Earth. Why? Because scientists from from the Siberian mammoth museum and Japan's Kinki University are undertaking a Jurassic Park-style experiment in an effort to bring the woolly mammoth out of extinction. These scientists claim that a thigh bone found in August 2011 contains remarkably well-preserved marrow cells, which could form the starting point of the experiment. From there they plan to extract a nucleus from the animal's bone marrow and insert it into the egg of an African elephant. If succesful, the cloning could be complete within the next five years!
The Roslin Institute, famous for cloning Dolly the sheep, has published some thoughts on the possibilities of bringing extinct species back to life. It said it was extremely unlikely such an experiment would be successful, especially using an elephant surrogate: '...first, a suitable surrogate mother animal is required. For the mammoth this would need to be a cow (as best biological fit) but even here the size difference may preclude gestation to term.The success rate for such an experiment would be in the range of 1-5%. The second issue would be the need for viable whole cells.If there are intact cells in this tissue they have been 'stored' frozen. However, if we think back to what actually happened to the animal - it died, even if from the cold, the cells in the body would have taken some time to freeze. This time lag would allow for breakdown of the cells, which normally happens when any animal dies. Then the carcass would freeze. So it is unlikely that the cells would be viable...'
'...assuming that viable cells are found it becomes a numbers game. Let's say that one in a thousand cells were nevertheless viable, practical issues come into play. Given that we have an efficiency of 1% cloning for livestock species and if only one in a thousand cells are viable then around 100,000 cells would need to be transferred...'
Charles Foster, a fellow at Green Templeton College, Oxford, seemed more optimistic.
'...the idea of mammoth cloning isn't completely ridiculous. How the resultant embryos would fare beyond the stage of a few cells is more or less unknown. While most of the genetic coding of the embryo would come from the mammoth, some would come from the elephant ovum. We really don't know what the contribution of that cytoplasmic material is, or how it would interact with 'alien' DNA. It would however mean that, even if successful, the clone would be a hybrid rather than a pure mammoth...'
Text and images via Garden of Eaden
South Korean and Russian Scientists
Bid to Clone Mammoth
Russian and South Korean scientists signed a deal on Tuesday on joint research intended to recreate a woolly mammoth, an animal which last walked the earth some 10,000 years ago.
South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-Suk (L) shakes hands with Vasily Vasiliev, vice director of North-Eastern Federal University of Russia's Sakha Republic Photo: AFP/Getty Images
The deal was signed by Vasily Vasiliev, vice rector of North-Eastern Federal University of the Sakha Republic, and controversial cloning pioneer Hwang Woo-Suk of South Korea's Sooam Biotech Research Foundation.
Hwang was a national hero until some of his research into creating human stem cells was found in 2006 to have been faked. But his work in creating Snuppy, the world's first cloned dog, in 2005, has been verified by experts.
Stem cell scientists are now setting their sights on the extinct woolly mammoth, after global warming thawed Siberia's permafrost and uncovered remains of the animal.
Sooam said it would launch research this year if the Russian university can ship the remains. The Beijing Genomics Institute will also take part in the project.
The South Korean foundation said it would transfer technology to the Russian university, which has already been involved in joint research with Japanese scientists to bring a mammoth back to life.
"The first and hardest mission is to restore mammoth cells," another Sooam researcher, Hwang In-Sung, told AFP. His colleagues would join Russian scientists in trying to find well-preserved tissue with an undamaged gene.
By replacing the nuclei of egg cells from an elephant with those taken from the mammoth's somatic cells, embryos with mammoth DNA could be produced and planted into elephant wombs for delivery, he said.
Sooam will use an Indian elephant for its somatic cell nucleus transfer. The somatic cells are body cells, such as those of internal organs, skin, bones and blood.
"This will be a really tough job, but we believe it is possible because our institute is good at cloning animals," Hwang In-Sung said.
South Korean experts have previously cloned animals including a cow, a cat, dogs, a pig and a wolf.
Last October, Hwang Woo-Suk unveiled eight cloned coyotes in a project sponsored by a provincial government.
Text and image via The Telegraph
Image via a-z animals