Cloning the Extinct?

October 17, 2010 2 min read

Editor's Note: The Today's Green Minute column is not available this week. The following column originally was published in December 2008.

It's possible that a baby wooly mammoth carcass that Russian scientists discovered in 2007 — which has been frozen for over 40,000 years — may be able to be cloned. Someday soon. Wow.

Until now, cloning frozen tissue was impossible because cells burst open during freezing, which damages the DNA. (The only exception to this is when cryoprotectant chemicals are used to preserve the DNA before the tissue is frozen — which obviously doesn't apply to the baby wooly mammoth.)

But recently, Japanese scientist Teruhiko Wakayama and his colleagues were able to clone unprotected mice that were frozen for up to 16 years. They put nuclear material from a frozen mouse into an egg cell that had its nucleus removed, and then stimulated the resulting cell — which began dividing as if it had been fertilized.

... Which leads scientists to think that cloning new animals from frozen samples of wooly mammoth tissue may be within reach. Are we one step closer to a real-life "Jurassic Park?"

Questions can be sent to Jim Parks at [email protected] To view the online "Today's Green Minute" videos, go to To find out more about Jim Parks and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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