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Cloning of the Wooly Mammoth

Updated on November 1, 2013
Manny and Ellie from Ice Age, two characters who influenced modern fame for the woolly mammoth.  Cloning of the Wooly Mammoth would excite kids everywhere!
Manny and Ellie from Ice Age, two characters who influenced modern fame for the woolly mammoth. Cloning of the Wooly Mammoth would excite kids everywhere! | Source
5 out of 5 stars from 2 ratings of Ice Age Movie

Remembering the Majestic Woolly Mammoth

The woolly mammoth seems like something out of a fairytale due to the length of time it has been extinct- and many are awaiting cloning of the wooly mammoth. This beautiful animal is a very close relative of our modern day elephants. It is said that the mammoth is most closely related to the Asian Elephant, a smaller elephant that flourishes in tropical and temperate areas. In spite of the mammoth's closer relation to the Asian elephant, it shared a diet that closely resembled the African Elephant. In addition, the sheer size of these cousins was very close to one another, as well as the tusks. These close relatives will provide a huge crutch for science should the mammoth ever be resurrected in the near future.

The Woolly Mammoth has been made famous in several different movies, stories, and even historical documentaries on television. Kids absolutely love mammoths, and they are currently one of the most popular extinct species. Characters such as Manny from the computer animated hit movie series "Ice Age" have won over today's children several times, becoming a sort of comedic hero. This has helped to raise interest in these creatures, fueling the desire for a successfully cloned mammoth. With all of the love that this extinct species is already showered with, will we ever see one come to life and enjoy all of this love?

The beautiful Woolly Mammoth- an extinct creature that we hope to see come back to life one day. Will it happen???
The beautiful Woolly Mammoth- an extinct creature that we hope to see come back to life one day. Will it happen??? | Source
Could you imagine cloning the woolly mammoth and seeing them walk the vast icy plains on the northern reaches of the world's continents?
Could you imagine cloning the woolly mammoth and seeing them walk the vast icy plains on the northern reaches of the world's continents? | Source

What Is Needed for a Cloning of the Wooly Mammoth?

In order to clone the wooly mammoth, it will be necessary to find some woolly mammoth DNA that is able to be used for the cloning procedure. With time, DNA breaks down and becomes virtually useless; this occurs throughout an animal's life and especially after death when the body begins to decompose. The best way to harvest DNA for this procedure is to harvest them from a live animal; dead animals pose a serious challenge.

Since the Wooly Mammoth no longer walks the earth, it would be impossible to collect live DNA. Even if science finds a way to clone the Wooly Mammoth from well preserved mammoth DNA, it will probably be a very long,drawn out process. Since even the best preserved DNA is still going to be excessively damaged with lots of missing sequences, scientists would have to find a way to bridge those broken links in the DNA sequence in order to resurrect the wooly mammoth.

Would You Like to See the Wooly Mammoth Come Back?

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In Libya, you can find prehistoric rock carvings of mammoths. This image was probably drawn during extreme climatic transitions, in the Tadrart Acasus region of the country.
In Libya, you can find prehistoric rock carvings of mammoths. This image was probably drawn during extreme climatic transitions, in the Tadrart Acasus region of the country. | Source
This mammoth calf, Dima, was around 7 months old when she died. Her carcass was recovered in  1977 in northeast Siberia. You can see just how well preserved she was!
This mammoth calf, Dima, was around 7 months old when she died. Her carcass was recovered in 1977 in northeast Siberia. You can see just how well preserved she was! | Source

An Extraordinarily Long Cloning Process

The most popularized method of cloning would be to splice the preserved mammoth DNA with the DNA of its closest living relative: the Asian Elephant. This will help to bridge the gaps within the DNA while preserving some vital characteristics. Once the DNA sequence is completed, the DNA can then be used within sexual cells in order to impregnate an Asian Elephant. The cloned animal would not be a full blooded mammoth, but it would still be relatively close. It would be raised by an elephant, and later used to outbreed with other Asian Elephants. Over time, the closely monitored breedings would produce an animal that closely resembles the Wooly Mammoth. We would never be able to resurrect a full blooded mammoth, but we can come very close! With the slow maturity of elephants and mammoths, it would take over a hundred years to achieve a decent animal- talk about a slow process!

Will scientists ever be able to figure out a way to keep cloned animals alive, and avoid early deaths?
Will scientists ever be able to figure out a way to keep cloned animals alive, and avoid early deaths? | Source

Failure to Clone- Problems with the Cloning Process

One of the biggest pitfalls when it comes to cloning is that many of the clone creatures do not make it past a few years of age. The reason for this is because the DNA of the animals is harvested at a later stage in life- when the DNA has already begun to deteriorate. As a creature ages, its DNA does too; and it loses bits and pieces along the way. It could almost be compared to a cookie. As a cookie changes hands, moves, and gets put under stress, it drops crumbs. As time goes on, the entire cookie is more likely to crumble.

In order to get around this issue, scientists will need to be able to clone an animal and encourage reproduction to achieve animals with independent DNA that will withstand a lifetime. An even bigger challenge is attempting this with mammoth clones; the animals would need to be alive for at least 15-20 years to achieve the age of reproduction, and the mother another 2 years in order for gestation to run its course.

Mother and Baby! Asian Elephants are some of the closest living relatives of the Wooly Mammoth. Impressive creatures, aren't they?
Mother and Baby! Asian Elephants are some of the closest living relatives of the Wooly Mammoth. Impressive creatures, aren't they? | Source

Comments

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    • profile image

      Bre 3 years ago

      I personally think this is a horrible idea. It's true that these animals are amazing creatures, however, nature needs to be left alone. Humans have interfered enough and bringing back things that have not been nonexistent for so long could destroy the balance of nature.

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 4 years ago from Scotland

      Interesting topic AngryElf.

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 4 years ago

      I thought your hub was very interesting and it taught me a little more about the process of cloning. However, I don't really see the fascination or the reasoning behind wanting to clone anything that has been extinct for so long. As you mentioned, such a creature wouldn't be able to live in the wild and it wouldn't be an exact match to the prehistoric mammoth. If and when cloning becomes feasible and shows a more long-term viability, I think it would be better to clone animals which are either on the brink of extinction or haven't been extinct for more than a century.

    • mackyi profile image

      I.W. McFarlane 4 years ago from Philadelphia

      Very interesting article!

    • angryelf profile image
      Author

      angryelf 4 years ago from Tennessee

      For the most part, it would be really cool! Unfortunately, they could never live in today's world in the wild- especially such big animals! It would be a burden on current native species... And resurrected carnivores could severely disrupt the ecosystem. It's too bad though!!!

    • HeatherH104 profile image

      HeatherH104 4 years ago from USA

      Very interesting! I never knew the process of cloning an extinct animal or why it would be so slow - you did a great job explaining the whole process. Unless cloning is refined or new cloning processes are developed it looks like we won't ever have a "pure" wooly mammoth.

      It would be interesting to see if/how reviving any extinct animal would change our world.

      Voted up and shared.

      Heather

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