Could woolly mammoth roam Earth again?

Could woolly mammoth roam Earth again?

Woolly mammoths may one day walk the Earth again - thanks to an extraordinary new Jurassic Park style experiment.

The experiment uses DNA from a frozen specimen of the extinct giant beast to reproduce their blood.

Sir Ian Wilmut, the pioneering scientist who created Dolly the sheep, has outlined how cells plucked from frozen woolly mammoth carcasses might one day help resurrect the ancient beasts.

The notional procedure was spelled out by Wilmut, the Edinburgh-based stem-cell scientist, leader of the team that unveiled Dolly as the world's first cloned mammal in 1996.

Although, it is unlikely that a mammoth could be cloned in the same way as Dolly, more modern techniques that convert tissue cells into stem cells could potentially achieve the feat, Wilmut said in an article published on the website, The Conversation.

"I've always been very sceptical 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," Wilmut told the Guardian.

"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 added.

The giant beasts roamed the Earth tens of thousands of years ago in a period called the late Pleistocene. Their numbers began to fall in North America and on mainland Eurasia about 10,000 years ago, the report said.

Some woolly mammoths lived on for a further 6,000 years. Their extinction was likely the result of hunting and environmental change.

The most complete woolly mammoth carcass ever recovered from Russia was unveiled at an exhibition in Yokohama, Japan earlier this month. The baby female mammoth lived about 39,000 years ago, and is remarkable for the preservation of her fur and soft tissues, such as muscle.

Its samples have been sent to the laboratory of South Korean stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk, who, with Russian researchers, hopes to clone the mammoth, the report said. 

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