Perfectly Preserved Woolly Mammoth Provides New Hope Of Resurrecting The Mighty Mammal
Resurrecting pre-historic animals that roamed the Earth's surface thousands of years ago, has been something scientists have been fantasizing about for many years. However in most cases, it is just not possible either because the DNA is not available or in the case of an animal like the dinosaur, is just too old. The one exception may be the Woolly Mammoth that lived during the Ice Age, about 8,000 years ago.
Thanks to their relatively recent demise and the ice-cold weather they lived in, there have been many well-preserved specimens discovered, especially in the Arctic North. In the last few years, scientists have gone as far as piecing together the mammal's genetic code with the help of frozen hair and also, recreating its blood using DNA found inside fossilized bones. However, to actually recreate a living specimen, scientists have to first find at least one 'living' cell of the mighty mammal, a quest which so far, has not met with much success.
Now a recent mammoth fossil discovery in Yakutia in Eastern Russia is getting scientists all excited again. Found under a 100 meter layer of frozen land by members of the International expedition Yana 2012 that took place between August 9th to September 5th, the ancient animal is so well-preserved that it still has soft fatty tissue, hair and bone marrow.
However, the team of scientists led by Semyon Grigoryev, Director of the Mammoth Museum at North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk are not sure if any of these perfectly intact cells are still living - That, is currently being tested by a team of South Korean scientists.
Even if they do discover the live cell, which most experts think is unlikely, you are not going to find the mighty mammals roaming around your neighborhood any time soon. Resurrecting the animal is a lengthy procedure that begins with injecting the DNA sample from the live cell into an empty elephant egg, the mammoth's closest present day relative.
Then, by zapping an electric current into it, the scientists will try trick the egg to grow and divide just like any other embryo. After it has matured for a few days, the researchers will implant it inside the womb of a female elephant, who will act as a surrogate mother.
After that begins the waiting game - For it will about 600 days, for the Woolly Mammoth baby to fully mature - That is, if everything goes well and the surrogate mother doesn't reject the implanted egg. Even if completely successful at first attempt, which given past experiences is highly unlikely, the scientists are not sure if and how they would breed more, or if they would even display the one specimen to the public. But If by some miracle we do have a baby Mammoth in our midst, scientists are hoping they will be able to study it and answer the age-old question of how they became extinct in the first place - Were they hunted down by humans or did they die because of climate change?
Will the mighty Woolly Mammoth ever come back to life? Check back with us in a few years to find out!
Resources: rt.com, news.yahoo.com