CLEVELAND - Japanese researchers want to clone a woolly mammoth within the next five years.
It’s creating some Jurassic Park-concerns and skepticism from scientists.
“I’d say the odds of them pulling this off in five years are less than 50-50,” says Darin Croft, anatomy associate professor at Case Western Reserve University and resident mammologist at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. “I don’t know about 1-in-a-million, but they’re pretty long.”
First, researchers must find tissue from a woolly mammoth that froze quickly and hasn’t thawed since its death during the most recent Ice Age at least 10,000 years ago. Scientists then would need to find a cell, extract the nucleus, and implant that nucleus in the womb of the woolly’s nearest living relative - the elephant.
This is different than cloning mice or sheep. But the extinct animals are only slightly larger than present-day elephants.
“This is on a whole different scale,” Croft says. “For a lot of the public, it is something that’s big but not a dinosaur. Because the mammoth has a close living relative, the elephant, it’s feasible. It’s easier to get one alive.”