Living Mammoth Cells Found: Can The Extinct Mammal Be Cloned?

By Amir Khan on September 12, 2012 11:37 AM EDT

Mammoth
Like a scene straight from Jurassic Park, newly discovered living mammoth cells may lead to the giant creature once again walking the Earth. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Like a scene straight from Jurassic Park, newly discovered living mammoth cells may lead to the giant creature once again walking the Earth.

Researchers from Russia's North-Eastern Federal University found mammoth hair, soft tissue and bone marrow buried nearly 350 feet under ice on a summer expedition to Yakutia, in Northern Russia. The discovery marks the first time living cells from these animals have been discovered, and raises the possibility that the animal could be cloned from this genetic material.

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"This looks like one of the most complete mammoth carcasses we've ever found," Adrian Lister, a researcher with London's Natural History Museum, told the Daily Mail. "To find a complete carcass with all its flesh and skin and hair like this, it can only happen in the very far north of Siberia."

Wooly mammoths are believed to have died out 10,000 years ago, but scientists have mapped their genetic sequence through hair found in Siberia.

"All we need for cloning is one living cell, which means it can reproduce autonomously. Then it will be no problem for us to multiply them to tens of thousands cells," Semyon Grigoryev, a professor at North-East Federal University, told Reuters.

However, researchers were quick to mention that they cannot be 100 percent sure that the cells are living and viable until they are tested in a lab.

"Only after thorough laboratory research will it be known whether these are living cells or not," Grigoryev told Fox News.

Scientists have attempted to resurrect mammoths in the past, but to no avail. The first team to do so would be eligible for a prize through the X Prize Foundation, which recently offered a prize for the first commercial space launch.  The board, which includes Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, and Elon Musk, owner of the commercial space company SpaceX, are offering an undisclosed monetary prize for the first team to revive an extinct species.  

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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