Posted by Zia Shah
Source: Time Magazine
The key to cloning a woolly mammoth may be locked into the Siberian permafrost.
At least, that’s what scientists in the blustery Russian tundra are hoping. An international team from Russia’s North-Eastern Federal University recently found well-preserved remains, including some fur and bone marrow, during a paleontological research trip in the northeastern province of Yakutia.
Russian newspaper Vzglyad talked to expedition leader Semyon Grigoriev, a North-Eastern Federal University professor, who said that the remains may still contain living cells, which would be vital to any cloning attempt. Previously-found clumps of woolly mammoth hair have allowed scientists to determine much of the extinct species’ genetic code, but have fielded no living cells.
Living cells are necessary for the Frankenstein-esque procedure that would produce a baby mammoth, according to Chris Norris, senior collection manager for vertebrate paleontology at Yale’s Peabody Museum. Only living cells contain an intact nucleus, complete with woolly mammoth DNA. Such a nucleus can be inserted into a elephant embryo — a technique pioneered by a group of Japanese researchers last year — and then coaxed into becoming a real, live mammoth clone.