Resurrecting the woolly mammoth?

An international team of scientists believes that, given the right conditions, it may be possible to revive the woolly mammoth, according to the U.K.'s Times Online.

Well, sort of.

These post-"Jurassic Park" years have seen plenty of talk about using cutting-edge biotechnology to bring the fuzzy elephant cousins back to life (and even start up Siberian safari parks), but this recent announcement appears to be more than theoretical. Experimentation on mice revealed that the male specimens' sperm could potentially still be viable after years in a frozen state, and the scientists believe this could have implications for mammoth resurrection.

But here's the catch. All ethical questions aside, it still probably won't be biologically possible to actually bring back the woolly mammoth in its original state. Its sperm might be viable, but that's unfortunately only half of what would be needed to bring forth a new member of the species. Consequently, scientists interested in mammoth revival speculate that the still-extant Asian elephant--believed to be genetically close enough to interbreed with the mammoth--could fill the female void. There's no telling if it'll actually work. But if it does, and those Siberian safari parks ever come into fruition, they'd be full of half-mammoths, not the real deal.

Just keep that in mind before you call up your travel agent to book a trip to Irkutsk.

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About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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