Scientist: Cloning extinct woolly mammoth technically possible

July 31, 2013 at 2:49 PM
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LONDON, July 31 (UPI) -- A British researcher whose team cloned Dolly the sheep, the world's first cloned mammal, says the technology could clone an extinct woolly mammoth.

While a mammoth is unlikely to be cloned in exactly the same way as the sheep, Ian Wilmut said, modern technology could convert tissue cells from frozen mammoth carcasses into stem cells.

"While unlikely at present, the development of some form of mammoth creature or hybrid might be possible in the longer term, the research of which could lead to major biological discoveries and advances," he said on The Conversation, an academic website.

Mammoths lived in the late Pleistocene, tens of thousands of years ago, before going extinct due to hunting and environmental change.

Cells harvested from frozen woolly mammoth carcasses might one day help resurrect the ancient animals, Wilmut said.

"I've always been very skeptical about the whole idea, but it dawned on me that if you could clear the first hurdle of getting viable cells from mammoths, you might be able to do something useful and interesting," he told The Guardian newspaper.

"I think it should be done as long as we can provide great care for the animal.

"If there are reasonable prospects of them being healthy, we should do it. We can learn a lot about them," he said.

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