It may seem like a scene out of the Jurassic Park movie, but genetic scientists in Siberia claim that they will be able to clone a woolly mammoth soon. This astonishing development is a result of the team of scientists finding a well-preserved mammoth carcass frozen in permafrost at Siberia’s Malolyakhovskiy island.
The scientists estimate that the mammoth was 50-60 years old when it froze to death after getting stuck in the ice, while the carcass is 43,000 years old. It has been ten months since the scientists discovered the body and in that time, they have thawed out and extracted various parts of the animal to obtain remarkably well-preserved blood and tissue samples.
According to Radik Khayrullin from the Russian Association of Medical Anthropologists, the discovery is in such an amazingly preserved state that it allow them to take things to the next level. The team have also found haemolysed blood containing erythrocytes and migrating cells in the lymphoid tissue, which are all key to making the cloning process work.
The science of the process is all well established, but there are a few other complications that will have to be addressed. First of all, the clone will not be the same as the woolly mammoths that used to exist since a female elephant will be used as the surrogate mother.
Secondly, there are lots of ethical questions which need to be answered. “We must have a reason to do this, as it is one thing to clone it for scientific purpose, and another to clone for the sake of curiosity,” Khayrullin says. Although, they are not trying to play God, they must still have the right motives.
In the end, the scientists should only be cloning the mammoth to advance scientific understanding and not cloning an animal simply because they can!