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Science & Technology

Should we attempt to clone a mammoth ?

By T.K. Randall
November 16, 2014 · Comment icon 39 comments

Ethical concerns could halt efforts to clone a mammoth. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Flying Puffin
Scientists have been seeking viable DNA samples from a well-preserved mammoth found in Siberia.
The creation of a live mammoth would be one of the greatest scientific achievements in history, but even if scientists were able to discover the preserved genetic material necessary to make it happen there could be a number of other factors that prevent any cloning attempts from taking place.

Most notable of these would be the ethical dilemma of using live modern day elephants in the cloning process.

"The most fundamental step and ethical concern with this kind of procedure is that you need to have an Asian elephant surrogate mum at some point; cloning a mammoth will require you to experiment on probably many, many Asian elephants," said palaeobiologist Dr Tori Herridge.
"The most important thing is how much we can learn without having to go down the route of cloning."

Of particular concern would be having to confine and experiment on the elephant during what would undoubtedly be a highly unconventional and dangerous 22-month pregnancy.

"All of those aspects... I don't think that they are worth it," said Dr. Herridge.

Source: Independent | Comments (39)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #30 Posted by Peter B 10 years ago
How would I like to be "cloned" and emerge in four hundred thousand years much as would a Neanderthal or Denisovan? I suspect as a sentient being, I would feel quite out of place and perhaps be relegated to a laboratory or worse, some kind of zoo. I suspect too, so would the mammoth. Your clone would be no more "You" than your identical twin sibling is "You". So if a mammoth was to be cloned from genetic material extracted from a long-dead mammoth, the newly created animal wouldn't have the memories of the animal from which it was cloned; it would be its own self. At best, depending on how int... [More]
Comment icon #31 Posted by CRYSiiSx2 10 years ago
We don't have to play God! Definitely not worth it in my opinion. Christ on a stick... If you truely believe in god, why did he give us the power to do so? Or is that another "forbidden fruit" orange apple bannaner whatever you want?
Comment icon #32 Posted by Sir Smoke aLot 10 years ago
If it can provide someone money or Nobel prize then it will be done or someone will try hard to do it. Should... Why... Those questions are not important when one could earn money or fame. I am strongly against this, time of those creatures is gone.
Comment icon #33 Posted by JinxDeMynx 10 years ago
Yes. So that way we can ride him to McDonald's!
Comment icon #34 Posted by Leonardo 10 years ago
Why would bringing back endagered species help? Because they are currently part of the ecosystem, whereas an extinct species is not. I accept that it would be much more work in the long run to look to protect endangered species, rather than look to resurrect one extinct species - and yes, not all would be saved from extinction - but that is no excuse for making the attempt to preserve what exists, rather than trying to bring back what no longer exists. A mammoth, on the other hand, can be a one off thing, what good did going to the Moon do, hmm? It didn't give any material wealth, it cost vast... [More]
Comment icon #35 Posted by S2F 10 years ago
As long as there is habitat for said Mammoths and they aren't brought back merely for exploitation then I have no problem with resurrecting them. Unfortunately those are both significant factors against the idea.
Comment icon #36 Posted by Red Howler 10 years ago
It would be unfair to the mammoth bringing it back through cloning. It's not the same world they lived in and they could become ill. Bringing back dinosaurs is too dangerous.
Comment icon #37 Posted by keithisco 10 years ago
There are vast areas of permafrost Tundra that could easily support herds of Mammoth ( ). As Humans actually appear to have played a hand, along with Climate Change, in their final extinction some 4000 years ago then I suggest that there is an ethical argument to be made for "restoring" the species...
Comment icon #38 Posted by Erowin 10 years ago
I don't understand why not? There isn't any ethical issue here for me, unless we were to chain and torture the thing. But why would we, it would be pointless. Something as amazing as a mammoth brought back to life is not going to be treated to poor conditions. We are giving that sucker the best food we can, the best medical care. Elephants have a concept of 'self' and can get lonely so its not crazy to think this mammoth could too. But it would have handlers or even other elephant friends to hang out with. I don't think there will be an existential crisis as it wonders why no one else looks li... [More]
Comment icon #39 Posted by Leonardo 10 years ago
There are vast areas of permafrost Tundra that could easily support herds of Mammoth ( ). As Humans actually appear to have played a hand, along with Climate Change, in their final extinction some 4000 years ago then I suggest that there is an ethical argument to be made for "restoring" the species... The Arctic tundra that exists today is largely quite different to the tundra that was the home of the mammoth in pleistocene times. That tundra, while cold, had a nearly year-round growing season due to it being in lower latitudes, while the present Arctic tund... [More]

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