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Scientists to Resurrect Woolly Mammoth. Kurzweil’s Father Next?!

In Barry Ptolemy‘s fantastic documentary Transcendent Man, Ray Kurzweil went on the record saying that he intends to bring his father from the dead. Naturally, there is a myriad of ethical, legal, religious and technical issues surrounding such an endeavor, so I wouldn’t even begin listing them here. However, it seems that at least from technical point of view, Ray is indeed getting closer and closer…

Or, is he?!

Russian scientists, in cooperation with counterparts in Japan and South Korea, have begun work on resurrecting the extinct woolly mammoth, using biological material recovered from Siberian permafrost to create a clone.

Reuters News report by Jim Drury


Russian schoolchildren view the skeleton of a woolly mammoth in a museum. But in ten years time they could come face to face with one of the prehistoric pachyderms in real life. That’s the aim of scientists from Russia, Japan, and South Korea working to bring the species back from the dead.

Recent thaws in Siberian permafrost have uncovered the remains of several woolly mammoths. Scientists hope to use the recovered biological material to clone the shaggy, Ice Age beast, by implanting mammoth DNA into an elephant egg. The resulting foetus would be grown inside an elephant’s womb.

Semyon Grigoriev, head scientist at Russia’s Northeast Federal University, is heading an expedition from all three countries to northern Siberia.

Soundbite (Russian) Head Scientist at Nefu University Semyon Grigorievich, saying:

“This summer Korean scientists together with us will go on expeditions, starting from this year and in northern Yakutia will search for material from permafrost. They’re bringing mobile laboratories from Korea and are planning to start working on the selection and cultivation of biological material.”

Mammoths evolved from hairless elephants in Africa, roaming North America and northern Eurasia, before becoming extinct almost 4,000 years ago. Scientists from Japan’s Kinki University are also taking part in this summer’s expedition. Biology professor Iritani Akira is project leader.

(Soundbite) (Japanese) Biology Professor and Leader of Mammoth Cloning Project at Kinki University Iritani Akira saying:

“The technology to extract and clone the nucleus of a cell already exists, but finding good quality samples, such as tissues, skins, muscles or bone marrows, has been the barrier in cloning prehistoric mammals.”

And good quality samples are what they’re hoping to find on their trek. The scientists say the production of a successful clone could open the door to recreating other extinct animals – while helping prevent endangered species from dying out. They admit the scale of the project is elephantine but say that soon, if all goes according to plan, a live mammoth will once again roam the earth.

Original report by Jim Drury, Reuters

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  • We don’t have a brain record of the mammoth. We might be able to clone Kurzweil’s father in theory, but all you’d have is an identical twin, not his father. And we have a great advantage with the mammoths, we have frozen tissue.

  • Are they going to clone woolly mammoth milk too, so it can eat?! The woolly mammoth will be without other woolly mammoths, and be in an environment most likely unsuitable to its physiology. This seems cruel. 🙁

  • blahblah

     Good luck repairing all the
    degraded DNA/RNA and tissues, even if someone can magically fix most of
    the cells in some body, I wonder where will he get the information about
    pre-death tissue states, oh wait he will just have to invent the “time
    travel” (somehow change the entropy) have fun doing that with your magic
    wand Ray!

  • I rather agree with you Thomas, yet interestingly enough this is the comment that Ray Kurzweil made in the movie Transcendent Man…

  • I’m not sure exactly Cynthia but I would venture to say that it will probably manage to survive on regular elephant milk…

  • Lrparkin

    The woolly mammoth’s only became extinct about 4,000 Years ago according to the article.  While the average temperate has been increasing, especially in the last few decades, the general climate is relatively similar to what the mammoth’s lived in while they existed.  I also think Socrates is right that mammoth are close enough genetically to elephants that they could survive just fine on elephant milk while young. I think this is a very fascinating project.  If it works. We need to be careful with this technology though.  Remember Jurassic Park?!?!?

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