With the help of global warming and a mouse zombie, science is finally ready to make a woolly mammoth for the 21st century.
It seems like ever since self-proclaimed chaotician, Dr. Ian Malcom told the world that "life will find a way," there have been news stories regarding plans to bring prehistoric creatures into the modern age through advancements in genetics and cloning. While the idea of seeing a newly born Tyrannosaurus rex is
absolutely terrifying cool, we don't happen to know of any just lying around in giant Siberian ice cubes to experiment on. What we do have, however, are full-on woolly freaking mammoths, so why not bring one of those cuddly little fellows into the twenty-first century? That's exactly what a team of mad scientists from the Sakha Republic mammoth museum and Japan's Kinki University plan to do.
Jokes about Russian museums dedicated solely to mammoths and "kinky" universities aside, the actual plan to bring everyone's favorite form of elephant back from the dead is quite brilliant. Here's the step-by-step for any of you do-it-yourselfers out there: First, get a batch of elephant egg cells and some undamaged genetic material from a frozen mammoth bone. Next, extract the nuclei from the elephant cells and replace it with the nuclei of the mammoth. Then, inject your batter into the modern female elephant of your choosing and sit back on your couch to play some Skyrim while she does all of the gestation work for you. By the time you've actually beaten the game, the pachyderm you recruited will likely have formed a brand new batch of embryos chock full of mammoth DNA and birthed a giant furry creature previously known to be extinct for over 10,000 years.
The idea to make modern mammoths by swapping genetics with contemporary elephants has been around since the nineties but, up until earlier this year, has been impossible. First, there was the issue of the performing the procedure itself. Sucking out and replacing nucleic material is actually, if you'd believe it, a mite harder than it sounds. That changed only recently, when in 2008, a Japanese scientist resurrected a mouse that had been frozen for sixteen years using a similar method. With that procedure finally in place, it became a simple a matter of finding the right sample to continue. Just a few months ago in August, researchers discovered just that, a frozen mammoth thighbone with its marrow perfectly intact. Apparently, the team was only able to find it because global warming thawed the dirt on top of it that had been frozen solid for thousands of years. Take that Al Gore!
As exciting as this is, don't start crafting a giant leather saddle quite yet. The process is probably going to take about four years from when they get started: two to impregnate the elephant, and another two for gestation. Then there's the question of if they get lucky. Currently, our cloning success rate for cattle is only 30%, and we've been doing that for years. If it does work though, the mother is in for one hell of a birth, as your typical woolly mammoth can grow to twelve feet tall and weigh upwards of 16,000 pounds. Ouch.
Source: Digital Journal