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← Japan, Russia see chance to clone mammoth

Japan, Russia see chance to clone mammoth - Comments

ganggan's Avatar Comment 1 by ganggan

In theory, it can be achieved. In reality, it will be just a dream.

Mon, 05 Dec 2011 18:02:09 UTC | #895884

mlgatheist's Avatar Comment 2 by mlgatheist

While I think that it is possible, I wonder what the ultimate purpose of this is to be.

With the DNA of only one Mammoth, it certainly would not be possible to restart the species. Would it be able to reproduce with elephants? If so the offspring would not be true Mammoths. Also, we are running out of space for the species that we already have,

However, it might be more useful to use this technique to keep today's endangered species that are being illegalling hunted alive.

Mon, 05 Dec 2011 18:27:32 UTC | #895892

Save me jebuz!'s Avatar Comment 3 by Save me jebuz!

Incredible news, I hope you're wrong ganggan, this would be a truly awesome achievement.

Laterally thinking......I wonder what would be the appetite to do something similar if undamaged Neanderthal DNA were to be found?!

Mon, 05 Dec 2011 18:30:29 UTC | #895893

colmorrison's Avatar Comment 4 by colmorrison

The (re)raising of a species using the egg of another carries a number of issues:

1) While you may well clone the nucleic DNA, what of the mitochondrial DNA? That will continue to be of the donor species. In practice, it'll still look like a mammoth, but not quite a pure-strain one. There might be a few genes missing from elephant mitochondria that mammoths require which could cause problems - the relatedness of the two species might prevent this.

2) What of the non-genetically inherited traits? I've no doubt that mammoths, like elephants, learnt a fair bit from their parents. Hand-rearing a mammoth in, say, Siberia, would be fraught with problems as far as teaching them long-dead methods of survival in such a harsh environment. Then they'd get a surprise with polar bears (though the bears might be just as startled)... Not impossible though, there are a number of examples of species that have been exterpated and then reintroduced, with the young raised by humans. I recall a documentary of a microlite disguised as a giant bird with a flying-V of juveniles flying behind it...

3) Why? Is there a vacant niche in that environment for mammoths? I'm not well read on the reasons for their extinction, but if it was caused by humans, I guess that's a decent justification.

Apologies for any gaps or errors, my Genetics degree is 15 years out of date...I will say it sounds desperately fascinating though. My heart says 'Go for it' whilst my head says 'there are better uses of resources'.

Mon, 05 Dec 2011 18:35:14 UTC | #895895

colmorrison's Avatar Comment 5 by colmorrison

I knew I'd forgotten one - thanks mlgatheist

4) A one-off animal, or a viable population? The former seems a waste, the latter more difficult but more worthwhile.

Mon, 05 Dec 2011 18:38:32 UTC | #895898

cheesedoff17's Avatar Comment 6 by cheesedoff17

Sounds like it could be a bit hard on the mother elephant. I hope she will be given a Cesarean. Can't see the point of it frankly.

Mon, 05 Dec 2011 19:06:19 UTC | #895903

alaskansee's Avatar Comment 7 by alaskansee

@Comment 2 by mlgatheist

While I think that it is possible, I wonder what the ultimate purpose of this is to be.

General scientific inquiry that may one day lead to useful science, like the astronomer that discovered WiFi. I could of course imagine many nightmare possibilities like with nuclear fusion but that's not a reason to not inquire, it may save us at the end of the day.

Also, we are running out of space for the species that we already have.

We are running out of space only for ourselves, the other inhabitants of the planet are not. The mammoths did though. I'd hate to misrepresent the position we have put everything else on the planet in.

Mon, 05 Dec 2011 19:08:35 UTC | #895904

Extreme-Madness's Avatar Comment 8 by Extreme-Madness

It might be worth it if it turned into a kind of tourist attraction, zoo, (to return to a very high investment) with extinct animals and exterminated animals like the Tasmanian tiger, quago (I think it was a relative of zebra), dodo, moa and mammoths. I would personally be an amazing opportunity to see again returned to life, inventions animals. Naive idea, I know, but still.

Mon, 05 Dec 2011 19:35:58 UTC | #895912

glenister_m's Avatar Comment 9 by glenister_m

I've always liked the idea of ressurrecting extinct species, and not just for righting the wrongs of our ancestors (the attempt to clone the Australian tiger/thylacine). Personally I've always dreamed of bringing back the ancient dragonflies with 3 foot wingspans...but I digress.

It would be nice if we had more proof of concept experiments before we get news that we "might be able to clone a mammoth". If they succeeded in cloning a living species from a dead specimen, eg. a dead cat, learning what samples will work with which techniques, then it would make sense to try again with the valuable/limited samples of mammoths, etc.

I wish them luck, but would like to hear of more success with the "foundation" experiments.

Mon, 05 Dec 2011 20:32:06 UTC | #895931

dandelion fluff's Avatar Comment 10 by dandelion fluff

I would dearly love to see a mammoth! Even if it is only a one-off, I think it would be worth it for the information, pictures and video that would result - as long as the mammoth and mother elephant aren't miserable.

It might not have to be a one-time thing, as the article mentions other frozen mammoths being found.

Yes, of course, do it right; do the preliminary experiments and so on before trying on the mammoth DNA. But I hope they continue to look into it.

Mon, 05 Dec 2011 21:06:12 UTC | #895943

btheist's Avatar Comment 11 by btheist

Big hairy deal!

Sorry couldn't resist.... I too wonder at the end game in this, and worry for the well being of the surrogate elephant mother, but at the same time, it would be cool.

Mon, 05 Dec 2011 22:09:25 UTC | #895965

Functional Atheist's Avatar Comment 12 by Functional Atheist

I'll concede that the "wow, gee-whiz this sounds cool" appeal of this sort of applied science is a shallow rationale. But having that sort of impact on children, probably encouraging a few more to pursue careers in science, adds some depth and relevance to the enterprise.

As potential entertainment goes this is less frivolous than most. Commerce and the profit motive already underlies a great deal of scientific research, and such research can have unintended benefits. So long as the elephant surrogates and pseudo-mammoths are treated kindly, I'd welcome the return of the hairier pachyderms.

Mon, 05 Dec 2011 23:16:51 UTC | #895980

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 13 by strangebrew

Just because it is technically feasible does not mean it should happen.

Apart from the thrill for present day punters and movers to study and possibly learn invaluable data from an animal resurrected from the extinction waltz... what then?

No doubt its physical comforts will be first class...any less would be a dereliction of humanity...what of the beast?

It could be a heart break, when, as seems inevitable, the mating drive kicks in, I think salts of bromine is not a long term tactic.

Loneliness and the innate desire for companionship is a depression waiting to happen, as I say just because we can...does it really mean we should!

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 08:23:51 UTC | #896069

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 14 by DavidMcC

Comment 6 by cheesedoff17

Can't see the point of it frankly.

To learn more about mammoths?

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 09:59:21 UTC | #896102

snail-12's Avatar Comment 15 by snail-12

Is elephant embryology similar enough to mammoth embryology for this to actually work?

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 11:24:28 UTC | #896114

paulmcuk's Avatar Comment 16 by paulmcuk

The 12 year old boy in me thinks "Cool! A mammoth!" and I can't help but wonder if that isn't part of the reason this is being done. Aside from dinosaurs, no extinct creature elicits such public interest as the mammoth and for as long as cloning has been possible (even when it was theoretical) it was always the mammoth that seemed to be the main target...although admittedly the availability of frozen members of the species made it one of the better bets anyway. While I'm sure they have many scientific arguments for doing this, I wouldn't be surprised if the 12 year old boy inside all those involved isn't jumping up and down saying "Cool! A mammoth!"

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 13:23:57 UTC | #896150

Absinthius's Avatar Comment 17 by Absinthius

Reckon mammoths are tasty? I'd love to try it.... So I applaud this endeavour!

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 13:34:38 UTC | #896154

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 18 by DavidMcC

Comment 17 by Absinthius :

Reckon mammoths are tasty?

But then, so is a glass of Absinthius!

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 13:51:27 UTC | #896159

Denial's Avatar Comment 19 by Denial

This is both as unnecessary, and as necessary, as the space program. Except it is for biology, not physics.

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 14:27:36 UTC | #896166

1Sokkie's Avatar Comment 20 by 1Sokkie

This is science for the purpose of making headlines. No real new techiques are developed and no usefull or interesting goal is set. This is a child screaming "Look, mother, no hands!"

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 16:47:52 UTC | #896210

Scoundrel's Avatar Comment 21 by Scoundrel

Comment 1 by ganggan :

In theory, it can be achieved. In reality, it will be just a dream.

Have some trust. Anything is possible if you just trust that it can happen. If in theory it is possible then why debate it. Dreams are made to be realized.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 03:51:54 UTC | #896360

Michael Gray's Avatar Comment 22 by Michael Gray

If the specimen mammoth is male, then it may be possible in the distant future to strip out the Y chromosomes, duplicate its X chromosomes, and create a female mammoth with which to mate the males?

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 07:46:06 UTC | #896386

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 23 by DavidMcC

Comment 22 by Michael Gray :

If the specimen mammoth is male, then it may be possible in the distant future to strip out the Y chromosomes, duplicate its X chromosomes, and create a female mammoth with which to mate the males?

That's what I was thinking, but there's a problem: genetic disease is likely in any second generation mammoths, from all the double copies of genes.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 09:05:22 UTC | #896393

Xor's Avatar Comment 24 by Xor

This is both as unnecessary, and as necessary, as the space program. Except it is for biology, not physics.

I agree. It was useless to reach the Moon, wasn't it ? But we could. I think that's it. It's just an achievement for humanity.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 16:10:33 UTC | #896478

keyfeatures's Avatar Comment 25 by keyfeatures

Comment 22 by Michael Gray :

If the specimen mammoth is male, then it may be possible in the distant future to strip out the Y chromosomes, duplicate its X chromosomes, and create a female mammoth with which to mate the males?

If it's a female why not just use the technology to help lesbians (human ones) have same-sex biological babies?

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 17:44:55 UTC | #896507

mysticjbyrd's Avatar Comment 26 by mysticjbyrd

Comment 23 by DavidMcC :

Comment 22 by Michael Gray :

If the specimen mammoth is male, then it may be possible in the distant future to strip out the Y chromosomes, duplicate its X chromosomes, and create a female mammoth with which to mate the males?

That's what I was thinking, but there's a problem: genetic disease is likely in any second generation mammoths, from all the double copies of genes.

Its not like they could repopulate the species anyways....thats not even the goal.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 21:47:52 UTC | #896588

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 27 by Alan4discussion

Comment 22 by Michael Gray :

If the specimen mammoth is male, then it may be possible in the distant future to strip out the Y chromosomes, duplicate its X chromosomes, and create a female mammoth with which to mate the males?

It may also be possible to find different sexes of additional frozen mammoths.

Limited in-bred genetic material would be more likely to bring out and genetic defects during cloning.

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 23:29:29 UTC | #896625

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 28 by DavidMcC

Comment 26 by mysticjbyrd

Its not like they could repopulate the species anyways....thats not even the goal.

True, but the real goal (learning more about mammoths) is not helped by creating diseased individuals. A small population of them would be much better than just one, lonely one, so Alan's point that further discoveries of preserved mammoths is the only promising route to a serious study of them, IMO.

Thu, 08 Dec 2011 12:50:12 UTC | #896745