Good news mammoth fans -- the Russians who found a frozen woolly mammoth carcass preserved in the Siberian permafrost have officially signed a deal with a Korean cloner. The once defamed Dr. Hwang Woo-suk, who was responsible for world’s first cloning of a dog, as well as faking several experiments, has been given the task.
The academic collaboration will set about taking DNA from the preserved mammoth and use it to replace the nucleus of an elephant egg cell, producing a woolly mammoth embryo. From there the fragile embryo will be implanted into the womb of a surrogate elephant. Apparently it’ll take a full 22 months from implantation to delivery, but we could see a baby mammoth running around in the space of three years if all goes to plan.
Dr. Hwang is confident that his team’s extensive experience from a decade of cloning at the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, will give them the edge needed to make this happen, but is guarded in his optimism:
“The pressing issue at the moment is whether we could secure a well-preserved mammoth’s tissue. This is only the first step in this grand project so we’ll see how it turns out.”
It’ll be amazing if we can resurrect a species that died-off over 10,000 years ago, especially one that’s unlikely to try and kill us all. If the Russian-Korean collaboration pays off we really could see massive woolly mammoths roaming the Siberian wilderness, not just a bear with a fish. [WSJ]