Scientists a step closer to "bringing back" mammoths At left, Eleftheria Palkopoulou inspects a woolly mammoth tusk (AP photo / Thinkstock)
Scientists a step closer to "bringing back" mammoths

Could an animal that has gone extinct make a comeback? Maybe.

Scientists are getting their best look yet at the DNA code for the woolly mammoth. It's thanks to work that could be a step toward bringing back the extinct beast. DNA determines what traits a living organism will have.

Researchers deciphered the complete DNA code, or genomes, of two mammoths. The new genomes are far more refined than a previous one announced. That was in 2008.

One new genome comes from a mammoth that lived about 45,000 years ago. Its home was in northeastern Siberia. The other comes from a creature that lived about 4,300 years ago. It lived on Russia's Wrangel Island. That is inside the Arctic Circle.

The results were announced in a paper released by the journal Current Biology. The DNA was extracted from a tooth and a sample of soft tissue.

Woolly mammoths were about as big as modern African elephants. They sported long curved tusks and thick hairy coats. They are the best-known species of mammoth. The information comes from frozen and often well-preserved carcasses. Those mammoths have been found in Siberia.

The Wrangel Island population was the last of the creatures to go extinct. Some scientists have suggested that mammoths could be created anew through genetic engineering. Not everybody favors the idea.

Love Dalen works with the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm. He is an author of the new study. Dalen said re-creating mammoths is not a goal of his research team. He also said it's "very uncertain" that it's even possible.

Still, he wrote in an email, "Our genomes bring us one critical step closer to re-creating a mammoth."

"I think it would be cool if it could be done, but I'm not sure it should be done."

There are some ethical drawbacks. He said one of them is that elephants would be used as surrogate mothers. The elephants would carry the genetically engineered mammoth embryos. That species mismatch might lead to problems. Those could cause the mothers to suffer, he said.

Hendrik Poinar of Canada's McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, is another author of the study. He said the new work "gives us at least a blueprint to work from."

Poinar said mammoths could be a welcome addition if re-introduced to the wild. But if they were made just for exhibition at zoos, "I don't see any good in that at all."

Critical thinking challenge: Why were mammoth's wooly?

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Assigned 26 times

  • SophiaH1-Bru
    4/29/2015 - 03:35 p.m.

    The main idea of the passage is that scientists are recreating the woolly mammoth by using the DNA from a tooth of woolly mammoths from 45,000 and 4,300 years ago from the tooth and a sample of soft tissue. Three facts to support this is that these mammoths were found found in Siberia and the journal current biology,ect.

    • noahh1-san
      9/27/2016 - 05:28 p.m.

      ???? awsome commeting i like it

  • KateM-Kut
    4/29/2015 - 09:31 p.m.

    Scientists are trying to bring back the woolly mammoths. I think that it is a good idea to bring back the mammoths, because a lot of animals are slowly becoming extinct and adding another animal would be amazing. Scientists are getting a good look at the DNA in the wooly mammoth. They are trying to create two mammoths, one that they are creating is from 45,000 years ago and the other is from 4,300 years ago. I think that it is very interesting what they are doing and i hope that it happens very soon.

  • pedrovilosola
    5/03/2015 - 05:34 p.m.

    Why were mammoth's wooly?

    Because their location. They were from northestern Siberia and Siberia is very cold. So I think that they was "wooly" for that, to protect them the coldest days.

    The article said that the DNA comes from two Mammoth species, one of them comes from Siberia and the other comes from Russia, so as the first case, the Mammoth that comes from Russia lived in a cold place so they needed his "wooly" skin.

    The different animals species was and are addapted for the areas conditions, that's called evolution. So if you live in a cold area it's possible that you change body or DNA to adapted to conditions. It's the same to other conditions. For example, people that live in a desert area where the sun is shinning old the day, they have brown skin to protect them the sun.

    So in the Mammoths case, they adapted to the cold conditions and their DNA did that they had "wooly" body.

  • Emilyg1-Cla
    5/05/2015 - 07:01 p.m.

    Ms. Clarkson I am amazed because they can bring them back and if they bring this animal back then they can take the DNA and bring a sabor tooth back. but is bring back a wooly mammoth really necicary because it would be to hot here any way. Also if they bring a mammoth then they might over use this and it may become dracic park.

  • andrewcbwmsteam1
    5/07/2015 - 01:36 p.m.

    If scientist eventually end up bringing back woolly mammoths, then this means they could possibly end up bringing back other extinct animals like dinosaurs. So this could possibly lead to making a real life Jurassic Park, but maybe i am just think to much into this.

  • 16SalajM-May
    5/18/2015 - 11:31 p.m.

    It will be really cool if scientists bring back this extinct creature. Then we will have a new animal to study. If the scientists are able to bring them back to life, it will be a great success for them. But I worry if mammoths are brought to life where they are going to live? Would the 21st century microbial world suit the woolly mammoth?

  • bis2
    5/20/2015 - 01:30 p.m.

    I think that if they could make it would be cool but what would they use it for. That's it.

    It could be for us.

  • ellie21-Bla
    5/21/2015 - 01:17 p.m.

    I think it would be so cool if mammoth's were still alive, bot I think it wiil be a long time untill scientist will
    bring them back

  • ap-bla
    2/25/2016 - 12:58 p.m.

    Woolly mammoths were not attacked by saber cats.They lived in different time periods.

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