The woolly mammoth once roamed the earth — and surprisingly not too long ago! While most of these giant creatures died out about 10,000 years ago, a small population survived on Wrangel Island until around 3600 years ago. To put that in perspective, King Hammurabi of Babylon died 100 years before the extinction of the woolly mammoths, and the Pyramids of Giza were built 1000 years before. Scientists have discovered preserved mammoth carcasses, and have been able to extract fragments of their DNA. Now scientists question whether or not it is possible to clone a mammoth.
The process of cloning involves extracting the DNA of the desired organism and fusing the genome to an egg cell’s nucleus. The cells are then used to create an artificial embryo that is then inserted into a host mother of the same species (or similar species), where the clone can grow. Though there are no female woolly mammoths available to carry a child, scientists predict that the Asian elephant may be a close enough relative.
The technology for cloning has been around for several years. In 1996, scientists successfully cloned the first mammal: Dolly the sheep. The problem with resurrecting this species is a lack of complete DNA. One way to sidestep this problem would be to see if it is possible to reconstruct a complete genome from the fragments. Any missing information could be substituted with the DNA of an Asian elephant.
It’s amazing to think of all the advancements we’ve made in science. If you could bring back any animal from extinction, what would it be?
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By: Luyan Lin