Scientists are saying that they may be able to bring the extinct woolly mammoth back through cloning.
In 2013, the body of a frozen woolly mammoth was discovered in Siberia. Since it was frozen, the body was well preserved. According to the results of carbon dating, they were able to identify that the female woolly mammoth, now called Buttercup, walked the earth some 40,000 years ago.
According to the Daily Mail, the woolly mammoth died at the age of 50 and was about 8 feet tall. Most of Buttercup’s body is still intact, including her trunk, head, and three legs, but scientists assume that she was eaten by predators. The meat was well preserved and reddish liquid seeped out of its body when it was poked.
With the preserved body, researchers are hoping to find a cell nucleus that contains the woolly mammoth’s DNA.
Buttercup’s autopsy will be shown in a documentary entitled Woolly Mammoth: The Autopsy, which will air on November 23 on Britain’s Channel 4. A different documentary, How to Clone a Woolly Mammoth, will premiere on the Smithsonian Channel on November 29 in the United States.
The documentary will also show the efforts done by scientists in the U.S. and South Korea regarding cloning the woolly mammoth. Dr. Tori Herridge, a paleobiologist from the Natural History Museum who worked on Buttercup couldn’t be more excited about the discovery.
“As a paleontologist, you normally have to imagine the extinct animals you work on. So actually coming face-to-face with a mammoth in the flesh, and being up to my elbows in slippery, wet, and – frankly – rather smelly mammoth liver, counts as one of the most incredible experiences of my life. It’s up there with my wedding day.”
She also said that analyzing the internal organs and muscles of Buttercup with give a better insight on woolly mammoths, the Mirror reports.
A geneticist from South Korea, Insung Hwang, said that bringing back the woolly mammoth through genetic engineering or cloning is a long process, but they are trying their best to do it within “our generation.”
“There is the possibility of finding something that’s amazing. We are very hopeful that this mammoth can give us an accurate genomic map that we can use as a template in the future to possibly bring back the mammoth.”
In case cloning doesn’t work, scientists have a “Plan B,” which has something to do with creating genetic mammoth-elephant hybrids.
[Image via Wikipedia]