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
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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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COMMENTS (32)
  • johns3-san
    9/27/2016 - 05:14 p.m.

    Mammoths are wooly beacause they live in the artic circle. The artic circle is like a circle and in the middle is the artic. So they need wool so they can stay warm. They have bin seen inside the artic circle so that means that they lived in a cold place. That is why mammoths are wooly

  • sarynea-san
    9/27/2016 - 05:14 p.m.

    One new comes from a mammoth that luived about 45,000 years ago. Its home was in northern siberia. They sported long curved tusks and thick hairy coatis.

  • arelyd-san
    9/27/2016 - 05:14 p.m.

    In paraghraph 4 it said that i mammoth lived about 45,000 years and its home was in northeaster Siberia and the other comes of creature live about 43,000 years ago and its home was in Russia's Wrangle island with is inside the Arctic Circle.

  • robertoh1-san
    9/27/2016 - 05:14 p.m.

    The woolly mammoths are woolly because they need to be warm back then because the were in the ice age and that was below freezing. Another reason is because the people that hunted them the woolly mammoth can use it as protection. Another reason is because they need to their young from freezing to death. The final reason is because the woolly mammoths are being hunted because the are they are prey not prediters.

  • anahir-san
    9/27/2016 - 05:14 p.m.

    Mammoth were wooly because they were using the DNA from a tooth of wooly mammoths from 45,000 and 4,300 years ago a sample of soft tissue. Some scientist say that mammoth could be crated through genetic engineering.

  • isaach3-san
    9/27/2016 - 05:17 p.m.

    They were the best known for the best specie mammoth. The info comes form frozen and often well preserved carsses

  • amayah-san
    9/27/2016 - 05:18 p.m.

    I really like what the scientist are doing, I think its cool that they are bringing mammoths back, it must be hard because they been extinct for so long.

  • joshlins-san
    9/27/2016 - 05:18 p.m.

    Its so cool that wooly mammoths were extinct 54,000 years ago!!! I honestly didn't understand much of the article but i tried to understand. I find it really fascinating that there are many interesting facts about the wooly mammoth. I have a question though. What is the difference between a mammoth and a wooly mammoth??? Is the difference that the Wollstonecraft mammoth has fur? But how would it look if a mammoth was hair less?? But i would really like to know.

  • miguele-san
    9/27/2016 - 05:19 p.m.

    mammoth were wooly because they were extinct .And scientist tried to recreate the wooly mammoth.But there was a guy that was saying it wasn't possible to recreate a wooly animal.But they were really close to recreating it.But they couldn't do it they said it was to hard.Scientist are getting there best look at the DNAcode for the wooly animal.

  • diegos1-san
    9/27/2016 - 05:19 p.m.

    I think that bringing them back to life it is also it is dangeris and it going yo be a big thing I history but thay most likely are going to be instink also we can get more DNA but it will be a bi thing and it can be a trunk is going to be a litoil big cus it is not going to come out purification it is also so haryy and it will die cus of the hot but the fire help it to defend

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