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Woolly mammoth could be reality in four years

Mammoths, giant ancestors of modern day elephants, roamed earth some 4.8 million to 4,500 years ago. They were quite large in their size with long tusks and were covered with long hairs.

Woolly mammoth, an extinct species of mammoth elephants, could become a reality in roughly four years time, according to professor Akira Iritani from the Kyoto University in Japan.

Iritani is quite sure of success as there was only one hurdle (to get a core cell in good condition for the cloning) that has been solved.

In 2008, a Japanese scientist Dr. Teruhiko Wakayama from the Riken Center for Development Biology made a breakthrough in cloning when he had had successfully cloned mice from the cells of a mouse, frozen for 16 years, thus opening new ways for cloning.

"The success rate in the cloning of cattle was poor until recently, but now stands at about 30 percent. I think we have a reasonable chance of success and a healthy mammoth could be born in four or five years,” said Iritani.

He added, "Now that the technical problems have been overcome, all we need is a good sample of soft tissue from a frozen mammoth."

In 1990s, after finding a well preserved frozen fossil, scientists had tried to clone it, however, there attempts failed as the cells needed for the cloning were severely damaged due to cold.

Iritani ready for next step
Though it’s all a theory so far, Iritani is excited at the prospect of resurrecting the mammoth and is set to take the next step along with his team.

"Preparations to realize this goal have been made," said Iritani, who soon will be travelling to Siberia (possibly this summer) to get some healthy tissue samples from mammoth’s fossil.

"The success rate in the cloning of cattle was poor until recently, but now stands at about 30 percent. I think we have a reasonable chance of success and a healthy mammoth could be born in four or five years,” said Iritani.

After successfully extracting the nuclei, the team will be transplanting it into an African elephant’s womb, who will act as surrogate mother of the new born mammoth.

Possibly after 600 days of gestation period, a baby mammoth will be born.

"If a cloned embryo can be created, we need to discuss, before transplanting it into the womb, how to breed it and whether to display it to the public,” said Iritani. “After the mammoth is born, we'll examine its ecology and genes to study why the species became extinct and other factors.”

About mammoth
Mammoths, giant ancestors of modern day elephants, roamed earth some 4.8 million to 4,500 years ago. They were quite large in their size with long tusks and were covered with long hairs.

The fossils of these animals has interested scientists to know more about them. However, till date it’s not known how these creatures completely disappeared from the face of the earth.