Woolly Mammoths are the stuff of legend. Not to the extent of Unicorns and Cyclops, but they belong to an age forgotten by modern man. They belong in museums as stuffed estimations of their former glory. Until now. I don’t think I’m being over the top with the that bold, italicized cliche; but if you’re not incredibly interested in the prospect of a Woolly Mammoth returning to a zoo near you, maybe you should be.
According to Agence France-Press, the mammoth is thought to have been around 60 years old when she died and was buried by ice between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago.
Digging down through the ice, says Wired UK, the researchers found the preserved mammoth in temperatures around 14 Fahrenheit—far below freezing. Poking at ice cavities found alongside the mammoth’s frozen remains with an ice pick caused liquid blood to flow. [ blogs.smithsonianmag.com ]
Liquid Blood From A Woolly Mammoth!?
Apparently they pricked the carcass of the long frozen Mammoth and blood spurted out. With liquid blood available, it begs the question about whether or not the DNA is viable for cloning.
That thought, Pitts explained, entails finding cells that could be viable that could be used to derive some DNA for cloning. This method has been tried before without success. “The real difficulty is you have to be able to collect enough of a genome to do this,” he said. “It’s been done with a hundred genomes before or you can find this, but you need millions of genomes to really get all the material you need to do that.” [ cbsnews.com ]
OK, I may have been premature with the whole, ‘coming to a zoo near you’, but as the scientists say, it’s a tantalizing thought. It seems Jurassic Park, where DNA is extracted from a mosquito hoarding blood while encased in amber, is not a vision of the future. That DNA is too old old and damaged to use for purposes of cloning. But that’s OK, because we saw how that turned out in Jurassic Park, and it was ugly, and it was stupid.
But If We Can Clone Woolly Mammoths, Should We?
Bringing Woolly Mammoths back among the living would not be a fraction as stupid as bringing back gigantic reptiles. Here’s my reasoning. Humans have already lived among Woolly Mammoths. In fact, they were able to hunt and kill them with spears. In other words, what’s the worst that could happen? A bit of chaos and mischief perhaps if the enclosures weren’t secure enough, but these are fellow mammals, these are basically family!
I say if we can bring them back through cloning, it’s worth a shot.
The only argument to the contrary I can think of is that, ‘we shouldn’t play god’. But eh, I think the ship has sailed on that, and besides, we as a species were probably responsible for the poor Mammoths going extinct. The least we can do now is give them a chance to be kept in enclosures to be ogled at by the masses.