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Japanese Researcher Looking To Resurrect Mammoth

January 17, 2011

The extinct woolly mammoth could be brought back to life once again, if scientists at Japan’s Kyoto University are successful in their attempts to clone the massive mammal using a tissue sample recovered from a mammoth carcass last summer.

Akira Iritani, the head of the project and a professor emeritus at the university, told the daily Yomiuri Shimbun that “preparations”¦ have been made” to use cloning technology to produce a new mammoth from a tissue sample that had been preserved at a research lab in Russia.

Iritani and colleagues will reportedly insert cells from the mammoth into the egg cell of an elephant, which has had the nucleus removed. The resulting embryo will then be placed into an elephant’s uterus–the closest surviving relative to the extinct creature. If successful, that animal will give birth to a baby mammoth, resulting in the revival of a species that died out some 5,000 years ago.

According to United Press International (UPI), “Iritani said he estimates that another two years will be needed before nuclei can be obtained and the elephant impregnated, followed by the approximately 600-day gestation period.”

The Kyoto University researcher told UPI that the chance of producing a successful clone currently stood at about 30%, but as Iritani told AFP, even success would come with some issues and concerns.

“If a cloned embryo can be created, we need to discuss, before transplanting it into the womb, how to breed (the mammoth) and whether to display it to the public,” Iritani told the French news agency. “After the mammoth is born, we will examine its ecology and genes to study why the species became extinct and other factors.”

Joining Iritani on the project, according to AFP, will be a mammoth researcher from Russia and a pair of elephant experts from the United States. Those individuals were not named.

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