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View Poll Results: Will they successfully clone a woolly mammoth?
Yes 48 56.47%
No 28 32.94%
Other/Planet X 9 10.59%
Voters: 85. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 15th March 2012, 12:10 AM   #1
Puppycow
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Cloning a woolly mammoth

My guess is it won't work. Hope I'm wrong. It would be awesome if it did work. But I doubt it will. For one thing, I'm guessing that any mammoth DNA they can recover will be riddled with errors. Nonetheless I think it's worth trying, and is worthy science. At the very least, they'll be able to figure out why it can't be done, which is science too.

Cloning a Woolly Mammoth: Good Science or Vanity Project?

Quote:
Scientists in South Korea and Russia agreed Tuesday to try to clone a woolly mammoth, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The scientists intend to make a wooly mammoth embryo by replacing the nuclei of an elephant cell with that of a woolly mammoth cell (presumably from the remains of a mammoth uncovered in Siberia last year). Then they would use an elephant as a surrogate, according to the Journal.

One of the leaders of the endeavor, Hwang Woo-suk, has a patchy history with cloning. He rose to fame in 2004 and 2005 with claims that he and his team had made a human embryonic stem cell. Their data turned out to be false.

Since then, Hwang has made an attempt at a comeback. In October 2011, after he became the first to clone a coyote, he announced his woolly-mammoth plans.
There's no way to fake your way to success here. Either he'll have a real woolly mammoth or not.
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Old 15th March 2012, 12:36 AM   #2
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WHat's the point?

We have Elephants.

One or the other! Get over It!
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Old 15th March 2012, 01:21 AM   #3
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They've been talking about this for a loooong time. Mammoths are pretty well preserved and not too old, so I think they will be able to get a usable sample of DNA for cloning. The issue will be whether the egg from an elephant will still be compatible.
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Old 15th March 2012, 02:39 AM   #4
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The over-enthusiastic Korean guy is along in this project, so a success will be reported, no doubt about that.
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Old 15th March 2012, 05:55 AM   #5
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Why not just put an elephant in a fur coat?


Seriously, I kind of hope it works. They've revived plants that old (okay okay, reviving seeds is not the same as cloning).

The question I find most interesting is:
How would the animal be treated? As an animal? As an experiment? As a gimmick? As property? And what sort of precedent would that set?
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Old 15th March 2012, 06:56 AM   #6
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I am sure that the cloning of extinct animals (including the Mammoth) will happen eventually.

However, there is still a good bit of work to do before such a thing is possible.
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Old 15th March 2012, 07:35 AM   #7
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I remember an effort to find a male mammoth with the idea that they could retrieve sperm and make an elephant hybrid, then take any female hybrids and impregnate them with more sperm, and so on, until the hybrid had been bred back into a mammoth (more or less.) It seemed like an awful lot of work for something with no real reward, or reasonable prospect of a reward.

I guess they might turn out to be super delicious or something. I wonder what thylacine tastes like...
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Old 15th March 2012, 07:46 AM   #8
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It could be fun. If someone can find the funding, then why not? (Didn't vote because how should I know if it can be done, and on which timescale?).

Hans
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Old 15th March 2012, 08:00 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
WHat's the point?
Because we can.
Or at might be able to.
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Old 15th March 2012, 08:34 AM   #10
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There's a kind of twisted humor in bringing back an ice-age creature into an ever-warming world.

Actually, I hope they succeed. It'd be a good exercise in science.
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Old 15th March 2012, 11:33 AM   #11
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Daft.
But it might reinvigorate the Siberian knitting industry.
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Old 15th March 2012, 01:03 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
WHat's the point?
Because I want a mammoth burger.

Mmmm..... mammoth....
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Old 15th March 2012, 04:37 PM   #13
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Oh, man! I can't remember the last time I had a mammoth burger!

Fun times...
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Old 15th March 2012, 04:41 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
Because I want a mammoth burger.

Mmmm..... mammoth....
With mammoth cheese?
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Old 15th March 2012, 06:07 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by azzthom View Post
With mammoth cheese?
Don't be absurd. You don't put mammoth cheese on a mammoth burger. You put giant sloth cheese on it. And maybe some glyptodon bacon, if you're not worried about cholesterol.
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Old 15th March 2012, 10:53 PM   #16
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This will unlock a lock dormant gene in all humans which cause us to crave meat, and it will lead to mass hysteria as people who see the mammoth in person are compelled to attack and eat it's hairy elephant flesh.

The relic of this dormant gene is what causes our interest in zombie media.
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Old 15th March 2012, 11:47 PM   #17
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I'm sure they'll succeed in more-or-less creating a mammoth some day, but I don't think it will be any time soon. Maybe in 20 or 30 years?

Let's be honest, though, if they do clone a mammoth a substantial fraction of the people who hear about it will want to see it. Wouldn't you? Partially because it's a 'higher' animal that has been cloned; partially because it's an extinct species that has been recovered. But, in all fairness, mainly because

It's a big furry elephant with ginormous tusks!

Seriously, what's not to love?
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Old 16th March 2012, 06:02 AM   #18
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And they should call him "Mr. Snuffleupigus"

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Old 17th March 2012, 12:01 AM   #19
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Coming up next:

a Yeti cloned from DNA isolated from poo found atop a mountain in the Himalayas

a Bigfoot cloned from DNA isolated from footsteps in a North American forest
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Old 17th March 2012, 12:46 PM   #20
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There are a lot of things we can learn from a cloned mammoth. Paleontology necessarily deals with carcasses, which limits what we can know--even if they're prefectly preserved, we don't know how things WORK.

The biggest problem, from my perspective, is that if we clone a mammoth all we'll know is the physiology (if we can figure out what to feed them fast enough--Pleistocene herbivores were hungry enough that they left an indellible mark on plantlife, one which researchers in the Mojave at least come to know well). Elephants are social creatures with complex behaviors, and it's an open question as to how much of that is instinctive (I lean towards most of it being taught from one generation to the next). So what we'd have is something that's physically a mammoth, but psychologically an elephant. Or its mind may not be able to handle the difference between a mammoth herd and an elephant herd (ie, elephants may do things so differently from how mammoths did them that the poor clone won't be able to cope), and it'll go insane.

Wonder if we could sell the ivory...I mean, if we clone the thing it's not a native species of anywhere, and the ivory isn't poached--at best it can be said to be harvested.
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Old 17th March 2012, 12:49 PM   #21
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you just do what they always do if you get issues, fill in the gaps with frog dna
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Old 17th March 2012, 02:16 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by mikeyx View Post
you just do what they always do if you get issues, fill in the gaps with frog dna
this going to turn out bad
hypnotoad bad
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Old 17th March 2012, 02:33 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by ThunderChunky View Post
The issue will be whether the egg from an elephant will still be compatible.
Elephants Eggs! How big would that Omelette be?
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Old 17th March 2012, 03:53 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Hecubas
There's a kind of twisted humor in bringing back an ice-age creature into an ever-warming world.
You're joking, right?

What we call ice ages are actually extremely complex, but basically boil down to alternating hot/cold cycles (with subcycles and sub-subcycles and supercycles). Ocean Isotope Stage 11, for example, is a warm period (termed interglacials) often used as a good analog to current conditions in paleoclimatology--it's similar enough to today's temperatures that it can be used to ground-truth GCMs. Mammoths, groundsloths, and other creatures we typically think of as "ice age" critters actually survived quite well during those times. In fact, the sloths survived tropical climates--they're not native to North America, but rather came north after the closing of the Isthmus of Panama.

My backyard shows mammoths, sloths, etc living in warm, dry clilmates VERY dissimilar to what we think of as ice-age conditions, even during maximum glaciation. We know that because we've found mummified sloth dung in caves in the Mojave (actually, my boss found some, and did a lot of analysis on it--the Yucca Mountain project had a lot of little-known implications), and packrat midden deposits in rock shelters (I've found a few myself, my boss has found more), and huge spring deposits (Jay Quade is the name to look for there), all of which show that both large ice-age mammals were perfectly happy munching on desert scrub plants. Granted, there was more water then--but we're still talking desert scrub, phreatophyte flats, etc., with the animals moving from watering hole to watering hole. Humans did the same thing until very, very recently--I read an article on the Mojave a few months ago that included instructions for how to find water if you're traveling, and how much gas to bring if you're using one of them new-fangled automobiles.

In short, we could drop these mammoths into the African Savana, the Great Plains, or any steppe on Earth and they'd be perfectly fine.

In fact, the WORST place to drop them would be the steriotypical ice-age environment: a glacier. There's no food on them. Nothing grows, and these are herbivores. They'd do far, far better in the Great Plains than in Alaska or Greenland.
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Old 17th March 2012, 04:09 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
<snip>
For one thing, I'm guessing that any mammoth DNA they can recover will be riddled with errors.

<snip>
I'm not a DNA expert but I'm curious about that.

If you had a mammoth body can you not just take hundreds or thousands of samples from various parts of the body.

Then the errors would presumably cancel out (or more specifically, the good data would overwhelm the error[ed] data).

Or is there some method by which all the DNA from a body acquires errors in the same sections?
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Old 17th March 2012, 04:15 PM   #26
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The trick would be to figure out how the strands go together. You're right, in theory they'd cancel out--but in practice, you're dealing with a puzzle of a polar bear in a snowstorm and no edge pieces. The pieces of DNA may simply be too small, and lacking enough context, to know where to put them. We've developed very good ways to tell what belongs where in a linear series (I know of dating techniques that do this--I'm sure DNA experts know far more applicable methods), but still, if you get a fragment ATCACG knowing where to put it is impossible.

And the nuclear DNA is only part of the equation. I've often wondered just what differences creep in to clones via the mitochondrial DNA...

You're right, though, that they should use this as part of the methodology. It won't solve all the problems, but it'll solve a number of them, making the amount we have to simply guess at much smaller.
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Old 17th March 2012, 04:41 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
In fact, the WORST place to drop them would be the steriotypical ice-age environment: a glacier. There's no food on them. Nothing grows, and these are herbivores. .
not to mention the polar bears would think it was lunchtime
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Old 17th March 2012, 05:18 PM   #28
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What? A mammoth with no soul???


RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 17th March 2012, 05:37 PM   #29
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Now that's a fight I'd LOVE to see. Never heard of a mammoth find with short-faced bear marks on the bones, which doesn't mean much (hard to identify thing like that), but it MAY suggest that bears simply don't go for things that outweigh them several times over and come equiped with some truly awe-inspiring weapons. And if a short-faced bear didn't fight a mammoth, a polar bear/mammoth fight would be like the first time someone plays Mike Tyson's Punchout and cheats.
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Old 18th February 2021, 06:12 AM   #30
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I wonder if we are any closer than we were in 2012?

Here's a new story about Mammoth DNA:

World’s oldest DNA sequenced from million-year-old mammoths

Quote:
Teeth from mammoths buried in the Siberian permafrost for more than a million years have yielded the oldest DNA ever sequenced, according to a study published on Wednesday, shining a genetic spotlight into the deep past.

Researchers said the three specimens, one roughly 800,000 years old and two more than a million years old, provide important insights into the giant Ice Age mammals, including the ancient heritage of the woolly mammoth.
Quote:
While it had degraded into very small fragments, scientists were able to sequence tens of millions of chemical base pairs, which make up the strands of DNA and conduct age estimates from the genetic information.
There are likely billions of base pairs in a complete genome of a woolly mammoth, so "tens of millions of chemical base pairs" probably only means something on the order of about 1% of that. But these are very old specimens.
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Old 18th February 2021, 07:29 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
I wonder if we are any closer than we were in 2012?

Here's a new story about Mammoth DNA:

World’s oldest DNA sequenced from million-year-old mammoths



There are likely billions of base pairs in a complete genome of a woolly mammoth, so "tens of millions of chemical base pairs" probably only means something on the order of about 1% of that. But these are very old specimens.

Yes, we are closer than in the 2012 - There will be better/more complete genomes of more recent mammoths. CRISPR/Cas tech will make editing an extant elephants genome with what we believe are the relevant changes much easier. And to be the clear, that's almost certainly the approach that will be taken. The alternative would be to synthesize the chromosomes de novo, get the correct packaging, and then get those into an enucleated elephant oocyte. You also need a fair number of female elephants as surrogates. Do you go with African or Asian elephants- the former are larger, which may be useful, but mammoths were more closely related to the latter.
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Old 18th February 2021, 07:37 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Louden Wilde View Post
Yes, we are closer than in the 2012 - There will be better/more complete genomes of more recent mammoths. CRISPR/Cas tech will make editing an extant elephants genome with what we believe are the relevant changes much easier. And to be the clear, that's almost certainly the approach that will be taken. The alternative would be to synthesize the chromosomes de novo, get the correct packaging, and then get those into an enucleated elephant oocyte. You also need a fair number of female elephants as surrogates. Do you go with African or Asian elephants- the former are larger, which may be useful, but mammoths were more closely related to the latter.
Wouldn’t this be quicker:
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Old 18th February 2021, 04:09 PM   #33
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I think they should genetically engineer them to be the size of Scotties. They'd be adorable.
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Old 19th February 2021, 05:19 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Louden Wilde View Post
Yes, we are closer than in the 2012 - There will be better/more complete genomes of more recent mammoths. CRISPR/Cas tech will make editing an extant elephants genome with what we believe are the relevant changes much easier. And to be the clear, that's almost certainly the approach that will be taken. The alternative would be to synthesize the chromosomes de novo, get the correct packaging, and then get those into an enucleated elephant oocyte. You also need a fair number of female elephants as surrogates. Do you go with African or Asian elephants- the former are larger, which may be useful, but mammoths were more closely related to the latter.
The plan that George Church (the scientist who people are usually talking about when this idea comes up) has in mind actually requires artificial wombs, as we just don't have enough Asian Elephants to make surrogate motherhood a viable option if you want a reasonable population. One issue being that elephant (and mammoth) pregnancy takes a long time. Another is that Asian Elephants really need to be giving birth to more Asian Elephants, diverting their fertility to birthing mammoths would be fewer elephants.

He's also talking about actually getting a population of thousands of individual animals.
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Old 19th February 2021, 06:39 AM   #35
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The regular elephants will all go on strike.
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Old 19th February 2021, 07:09 AM   #36
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If we clone the woolly mammoth, the Chinese will clone the Asian straight-tusked elephant, which was twice as tall and three times heavier.
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Old 19th February 2021, 10:19 AM   #37
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The baby mammoth would have the wrong kind of mother and wouldn't be taught the ways of mammoth life. I don't know if that would be critical.
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Old 19th February 2021, 10:40 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
The baby mammoth would have the wrong kind of mother and wouldn't be taught the ways of mammoth life. I don't know if that would be critical.
Yeah, we don't want to see teenage mammoths doing drugs and listening to rock music.
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Old 19th February 2021, 10:48 AM   #39
Ziggurat
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
If we clone the woolly mammoth, the Chinese will clone the Asian straight-tusked elephant, which was twice as tall and three times heavier.
That doesn't sound right at all. Scaling suggests that if it was twice as tall, it should be much more than three times as heavy.

But it wasn't twice as tall. It was up to about 14 feet tall and 15 tonnes, which is really big. But African elephants get to about 13 feet tall and up to about 10 tonnes, though typically closer to 6 tonnes for males. So straight tusked elephants were definitely bigger, but not close to twice as tall as either African elephants or woolly mammoths.
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Old 19th February 2021, 10:51 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
The regular elephants will all go on strike.
And the Trump boys will happily shoot them for sport.
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