Scientist says he can clone long-extinct mammoth

A Japanese scientist says he has a "reasonable chance" of successfully cloning the long-extinct woolly mammoth within just a few years, according to a report.

A Japanese scientist says he has a "reasonable chance" of successfully cloning the long-extinct woolly mammoth within just a few years, according to a report.

A prehistoric rendering of the woolly mammoth, from cave art discovered in France.

Professor Akira Iritani of Kyoto University told the U.K.'s Telegraph that a technique pioneered in 2008, which allowed for the cloning of a mouse using cells from another mouse that had been frozen for 16 years, could be used to resurrect the famous long-tusked mammal from remains found in Siberia's permafrost.

"The success rate in the cloning of cattle was poor until recently, but now stands at about 30 percent," Iritani told The Telegraph. "I think we have a reasonable chance of success and a healthy mammoth could be born in four or five years."

Iritani is planning an expedition to Siberia this year in search of a well-preserved tissue sample. If he comes up empty-handed, he says, he'll ask Russian scientists to slip him some mammoth skin.

He'll then use the mouse-tested technique, developed by the Riken Center for Developmental Biology's Dr. Teruhiko Wakayama, to ID healthy cells; then extract the cells and insert them into the egg cells of an African elephant, which will play the role of mom to the developing mammoth.

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