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article imageMammoth de-extinction: Should we bring them back?

By Eko Armunanto     Aug 2, 2013 in Science
Scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep says cloning the 10,000-years-old female mammoth found recently among Russia's Novosibirsk Islands should be possible through stem cell. He said it should be done if taking care of the animal is possible.
Reported by Fox News, Professor Ian Wilmut says the "de-extinction" prospect of the long-lost species isn't only depend on the technology with which he and his colleagues had once successfully cloned the sheep named Dolly in 1996, but also on reasonable prospects of them being living a healthy life. The technique they used in 1996 involved DNA injection; despite the Dolly sheep lived shortly, it died in 2003, its very existence was hailed as a medical marvel.
In 2003 Professor Robert Lanza, a scientist at Advanced Cell Technology in Massachusetts who doesn't believe in death, had also successfully cloned an endangered species called Banteng (Bos Javanicus) from the island of Java, Indonesia , using frozen skin cells of a Banteng died in 1980. There were two identical twins resulted from the cloning process, one of them was then euthanized because of abnormal weight.
Different opinions emerged as to whether the frozen fossil could really be brought back to life. In the Journal of Live Science, Love Dalen, a paleogeneticist at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, says that using the frozen fossil to clone a real-life mammoth anytime soon is almost impossible as some of the tissue was locked beneath the ice, and when researchers struck it with a pick, blood came flowing out. Perhaps the best Ian Wilmut can say about bringing it back alive is what's been reported by the BBC that the cells from the frozen mammoth could be used to create stem cells ― building blocks that can grow into any type of cell which could then be used to make a mammoth embryo. The professor himself admitted that it "might be possible in the longer term."
The frozen fossil was found May 2013 on an island off the coast of Siberia by researcher Semyon Grigoriev and colleagues from North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk, but a report on National Geographic said the fluid coming out from the fossil hasn't yet tested to verify if it's really blood needed for DNA injection in the cloning process — so far it's only speculation.
Even tissue that looks as juicy and fresh as a steak, however, can be damaged on the cellular level. That would mean very little useful DNA (the molecules that carry the instructions for life), could be extracted
Live Science
Woolly mammoths are known to have extinct around 10,000 years ago, some scientists believe small groups of them lived longer in Alaska and on Russia's Wrangel Island off the Siberian coast. They have been targeting the mammoth for the so called "de-extinction" in recent years, while others argue against tampering with Mother Nature’s plans. Bringing back a dead species raises a host of issues. "Preserving habitat doesn't make much sense if we don't have the animals to preserve," says Professor Lanza.
If you don't deal with protecting habitat and dealing with the root causes of endangerment, it doesn't matter how many animals you're able to produce in a lab and try to sort of fling back into the wild, they're going to face the same fate as their wild counterparts
— Karen Baragona, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Species are now being wiped off the planet at a staggering rate, the WWF suggested around 10,000 species a year.
More about Extinction, animal extinction, Woolly mammoth
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