Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Wooly Mammoth Extracted Intact From Siberian Ice

Roblimo posted more than 14 years ago | from the dreaming-of-hairy-elephants dept.

Science 279

Lawrence_Bird writes ... a group of scientists have extracted a wooly mammoth intact from a Siberian icefield. "They used a radar imaging technique to `see' the mammoth in its icy grave, then excavated a huge block of frozen dirt around it to preserve the 23,000-year-old creature." See the story. Naturally, there's talk of cloning the thing. If the effort succeeds, will McDonald's sell McMammoth burgers?

cancel ×


Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Mmm...burger (1)

MaxVlast (103795) | more than 14 years ago | (#1597921)

Clone 'em up real good.

Think of the novelty...mammoth burgers!

Max V.

[h]mmmmmmm... (1)

cdlu (65838) | more than 14 years ago | (#1597924)

paraphrased: 'at a constant temperature of -12C to -13C, (8-9F). Very constant. :)

Now i'm wondering, what do you do in a power failure? You have a huge, several thousand year old meat pack in your lab freezer, and it begins to I see where the Mickey D's reference comes from. :)

Why... (1)

drix (4602) | more than 14 years ago | (#1597927)

do we have to play God? I like my life. My life will be just fine without watching this tortured creature being resurrected in the name of science.

Mammoth (1)

SL33Z3 (104748) | more than 14 years ago | (#1597929)

Didn't we learn anything from Jurasic Park? *grin*

Nah What the hell, lets clone it and see what city he goes after first. There is the REAL study.

(My bet is on san fran).


Again? (2)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1597932)

Didn't we already have a story about this? Maybe I'm just having a serious case of Deja-Vu.

Anyway, I think this is ultra-cool. To use an elephant to give birth to a mammoth is kind of an interesting idea. I don't think any animal has ever given birth to a child of a different species before. The whole idea is amazing.


"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

One and the same (1)

Ccaves (104671) | more than 14 years ago | (#1597934)

This is the same beast they plan on cloning in the future. The only fully intact, and mummified mammoth known.

It is refreshing (2)

Deitheres (98368) | more than 14 years ago | (#1597937)

It is refreshing to know that we have come to the point technologically, scientifically, and medically that we can begin to re-populate the earth with the animals we brought to extinction. Yes I am aware that we did not bring the woolly mammoths to extinction, but I think there will be other efforts to clone animals we have killed off (the tasmanian wolf comes to mind). It makes you wonder about the Star Trek movie where they have to go back in time for the whales... heheh they could've just cloned one :-)


Child: Mommy, where do .sig files go when they die?
Mother: HELL! Straight to hell!
I've never been the same since.

Re:Again? (1)

cdlu (65838) | more than 14 years ago | (#1597939)

Horse + Donkey = Muel (I think i have the order right)
Elephant + Mammoth + Scientist = Mammoth
no wait...... :)

Advanced Thawing Techniques (2)

jeff.paulsen (6195) | more than 14 years ago | (#1597942)

``In April we will return to Khatanga,'' Mol said. They will use a rack of hair dryers to thaw out the block, layer by layer, and examine every speck of plant matter and animals remains they can find in the soil surrounding the mammoth.

Hair dryers?

Also catch the link at the bottom: Russian Scientist Denies Whole Mammoth Unearthed [] . Some question as to how much of the beast's remains remain; it may be just wool and bones.

Re:Why... (1)

Field Marshall Stack (58180) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598003)

do we have to play God?

Because if we don't, WHO WILL? Answer me that, eh?

Tortured? WTF? (1)

Deitheres (98368) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598005)

Why would a cloned mammoth be a "tortured creature"? Dolly the sheep seems just fine...


Child: Mommy, where do .sig files go when they die?
Mother: HELL! Straight to hell!
I've never been the same since.

Re:Why... (1)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598006)

Well why does it have to be looked at as "playing god"? I'm a creationist, but I don't see any reason to be exclusive in my thoughts. Just because God has created life, doesn't mean that we can't do the same. There are a number of things that occur in nature than man has succeed in duplicating. I don't consider generating electricity to be "Playing God".

In other words - why not?


"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

Old DNA is BAD (2)

SL33Z3 (104748) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598009)

I watched a special on the history chan. dealing with mummification in egypt. The problem with trying to get DNA from mummies or other artifacts is that you only get about 150 unit chains at best. That is very small compared to what we can get from the living. I'm scared to think what animals we might have to execute because they "didn't turn out right". Bad/Old DNA will have to be researched more I feal.


*grin* (0)

djinn87 (24245) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598011)

first to say "taste like chicken!"


btw, has anyone ever had chicken-fried iguana (while we're on the subject). seems that they're raisin' iguana like livestock in central america now.

This isn't likely to be too successful. (3)

Lord of the Files (10941) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598014)

Cloning is not perfected by any means. And it's already been determined that Dolly wasn't an exact clone. The mitocondrial DNA (I think this is it) was from the cell that Dolly's DNA was moved into. While the technique used to clone Dolly is supposed to be quite easy, it isn't terribly reliable. And this is with nice fresh DNA. Who knows about stuff from an animal that's been dead for a long time, and not intentionally preserved.

Re:Again? (1)

Ice_Hole (87701) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598018)

I remember reading the same thing.. I don't know if it was on slashdot or I saw it on the news, but I remember it, and it was actually quite a long time ago. At least 2 weeks ago.. Oh well..

Re:Old DNA is BAD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1598020)

"I'm scared to think what animals we might have to execute because they "didn't turn out right"."

Reminds me of the latest film in the "Alien" series

this was on tv today (1)

MrP- (45616) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598024)

this was on NBC Nightly News today, I wasn't going to post this but i saw a post saying it may not be the whole thing... i saw the actual thing being lifted and eveyerthing, it was a giant block with tusks coming out, looked funny, but they showed closeups and its full, i saw some guy touching some of its hair and stuff.... one of the guys who dug it up says that lots of companies are contacting him saying they can clone it and they want to try. Just thought you'd like to know

$mrp=~s/mrp/elite god/g;

Re:Old DNA is BAD, but he doesn't need a walker? (1)

Deitheres (98368) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598026)

I'm sure there is a significant DNA degradation in the mummification process. But the process, as neat as it is, is nowhere near as good as the "deep freeze" that the mammoth has been kept in. One would think that this would lead to significantly higher "quality" DNA, no?


Child: Mommy, where do .sig files go when they die?
Mother: HELL! Straight to hell!
I've never been the same since.

Re:It is refreshing (1)

Anthony (4077) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598034)

we have killed off (the tasmanian wolf comes to mind). It makes you wonder about the Star Trek movie
where they have to go back in time for the whales... heheh they could've just cloned one :-)

Actually it was the Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacinus sp) we killed off. I'm sure I've read mumblings about reconstructing them from mummified remains from the mainland or perhaps Tasmanian Tigers that had spent time with a taxidermist.

Of course there are numerous "sightings" of these creatures every year. Even more than Elvis I bet.

Old News... (1)

subarashii (103729) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598035)

Discover did a feature article on this story back in March. Then, they hypothesized that a wooly mammoth could realistically be born normally in a domestic elephant. Note: These are not tortured or abused as others may have implied, they don't even exist yet. But when they do, through our acts of god, they sure will be pretty.

Re:Old DNA is BAD (1)

RelliK (4466) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598038)

uhhm, the difference is that mummies are "stored" at pretty much room temperature. Here we are talking about a *frozen* mamonth. AFAIK, frozen meet can be stored indefinitely. We'll see anyway. It would sure be interesting to extract DNA from this piece of meat.

edible? (1)

cheese63 (74259) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598040)

even if it was, the taste would be horrible because of the "freezer burnt" effect. who wants stale wooly mammoth? not me, i'll just stick with pre-processed bovine.

Yes, but... (1)

jeremy f (48588) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598042)

What we are doing could potentially ruin our ecosystem. All creatures have methods of adaptation. While we hear propaganda from both sides of the eco-coin, the truth is the ecosystem is in balance right now. Introducing an element that was once part of it, but is no longer is does just as much harm to an ecosystem as introducing a specimen that has never been there at all. If we re-introduce Wooly Mammoths into nature, we don't know how well they will adapt, and we don't know how well nature will adapt around them.

For all we know, this could be something that completly devistates the earth. Long shot, but if we keep tinkering...

Re:Why... (2)

SL33Z3 (104748) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598043)

I'll agree. I'm one of the most right-wing baptist, "Bible-thumping" believers you'll find. God set certain laws in place on this earth. Just because man creates life from existing life doesn't mean he's "playing God". He is simply using the same principals that God set in motion on this earth to replicate. Furthermore, if you truly believe, as I do, that God created man in His own likeness then you'd realize that this includes the desire to "create". I believe if God didn't intend for this to happen, he would have made it impossible to do what we have thus far. Using science to prove creation is much better than placing science and God on opposite sides.


Re:It is refreshing (1)

GFD (57203) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598045)

Errr, there are at least a few theories that, *cough*, the woolly mammoths were hunted to extinction by our famous ancestors, the neanderthals.

the questions is... (1)

eries (71365) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598047)

can you export a cloned mammoth outside the usa?

Big talk from a MCSD... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1598049)

Everyone knows what MCSD (Microsoft Certififed System Designers) are like.. peabrained and too shortsighted to relaize that the mammoth is STILL in russia.. its not going to miss every city half way around the world just to get to SF.. I think itll go to Redmond first because thats where it knows all evil comes from...

Re:Why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1598052)

do we have to play God?

cause he doesn't exist and we're the closest thing to him.

Re:Mammoth (1)

Imperator (17614) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598054)

Just imagine the headlines...

"Wimpy City Terrorized by Furry Herbivorous Mammal"

Wolly Burgers (1)

GFD (57203) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598056)

There are a number of tales from survivors of the soviet gulag where chain gangs would find a mammoth while digging a ditch and would eat the thing on the spot. No comment on how it tasted as far as I can recall. Perhaps some historian out there can add to this.

Re:Old DNA is BAD (1)

Imperator (17614) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598057)

When my compile doesn't turn out right, I generally don't execute the file. Why should it be any different or a creature that might otherwise live a tortured existance in the ICU of a research compound, merely because someone forgot to ./configure it with the --enable-lung2 option.

Re:edible? (2)

Lord of the Files (10941) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598059)

Didn't this happen a while back? I think scientists at some special event were served Wooly Mammoth Steak from a preserved one.

No, not again. (1)

TrentC (11023) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598060)

I remember reading the same thing.. I don't know if it was on slashdot or I saw it on the news, but I remember it, and it was actually quite a long time ago. At least 2 weeks ago.. Oh well..

The article in question was "Cloning Another Extinct Species" [] . The article in question referred to cloning an extinct tiger, and also referenced an earlier Slashdot article about cloning extinct Huia bird [] , but mammoths were brought up in the commentary; that might be where you're getting confused.

Jay (=

"Now?" (0)

drox (18559) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598061)

...seems that they're raisin' iguana like livestock in central america now.

What's this "now" sh1t? They've been doin' that for hundreds if not thousands of years!

Re:edible? (1)

Imperator (17614) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598062)

No, I'd use the microwave. (As a bonus, it tests for life. The Heisenburg untasty principle?)

Besides, what's preprocessed bovine? I'd prefer that they didn't #include all those other parts.

Re:It is refreshing (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598063)

I would rather see something like the giant dragonfly. 80cm wingspan... Now that, that would be sweet :)

Re:This isn't likely to be too successful. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1598064)

Don't tell God how to run the Universe - Heisenberg

Not 20,000 years -- only 3,000 (3)

William Tanksley (1752) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598065)

Carbon dating showed that it was 3,000 years old, not 20,000 (according to the article). That's in the accurate range of carbon dating, since we have known-age tests from that long ago. (Darn, that was RECENT.)

I hope they post followups about what they find. That's a BIG freezer out there! What was the diet of the old wooly mammoths? How did this one die? So many cool questions...


Re:Wolly Burgers (1)

Imperator (17614) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598066)

Disclaimer: IANAH

This sounds very unlikely to me. For one thing, there aren't a huge number of frozen mammoths in places where work gangs are likely to be digging ditches. For another, they'd have to somehow thaw (and preferably cook) the meat; this would interrupt the work. Really, this just sounds like an urban myth (check the FAQ...).

Re:Again? (1)

dr (93364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598067)

I think it's interesting that there doesn't seem to be too much of a grey area on this subject; either you're totally for the idea of bringing the mammoth back to life or you're against it.

While I do think it would be 'neat' (I hate that word) to have the mammoth around again, I'm pretty sure that much thought would have to be put into issues like it's affect on the food chain. I also think there would be a huge market for them immediately on the black market as everyone would want to have their own 'piece' of a wooly mammoth. As long as the best interests of all involved (mostly those of the mammoth) I'm all for this kind of use of technology. If not, and the mammoth is just being brought back to life so we can hunt it and such, I'm against it. (So, I guess it's balck and white for me too, except I can't make up my mind... *grin*)

Re:Wolly Burgers (1)

GFD (57203) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598068)

Well I don't have time to check the references but they were published by credible authors. As for work gangs not being where they could find mammoths, the soviet gulag was in the deepest parts of siberia. These work gangs were sent where no one else would go (or find them)...

Re:Why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1598069)

cause he doesn't exist

That's just your belief, not everyones.

Um, not really... (3)

Millennium (2451) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598070)

Bringing back the wooly mammoth population is pretty much a statistical impossiblity, even with a subject to clone.

Why? Well, for starters, it's a subject. Without at least one male and one female, there's not going to be much hope for that species.

Let's say we overcome that obstacle, though, and engineer a mammoth of opposite gender to the one that was found. You've still got the problem that the mammoths are essentially twins. Mate them, and you've got a handful of inbred mammoths. Actually, this goes beyond inbreeding, because even among siblings there's some genetic variance; between these mammoths there would be none. Eventually you'd get to the point where no mammoths could survive for very long, and the species goes extinct a second time.

Theoretically you could engineer enough differences into many clones and start the species that way. Just one problem: to do that you have to understand the genome. To understand the genome you need living mammoths, so you're in a chicken-and-egg situation.

Maybe if scientists found a couple hundred more mammoths, then we might have something feasible. But to try with only one specimen simply isn't going to work.

Re:It is refreshing (1)

Digital_Fiend (41244) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598071)

Oooh, slingshot fodder! Yeeeeeeeeehawwwwwwwwww.......

Use the Blah, Luke.

Re:Tortured? WTF? (1)

drix (4602) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598072)

Dolly the sheep has a couple million compadres in all corners of the world. Imagine being the only human alive in the world. How f*cked up do you think you'd be?

Re:It is refreshing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1598073)

There's a fossil record that proves that horses were hunted to extinction on the North American continent, before being re-introduced by European settlers. By the noble never-hurt-Mother-Earth Native Americans no less. Rendered extinct before they could be domesticated.

grrr... (5)

TheDullBlade (28998) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598074)

Argghh! We've been through this.

Of course the mitochondrial DNA was from the host cell. They knew it would be and didn't really care. It's not a big thing. Mitochondria are mitochondria, they change tranportable blood fuel into usable cell fuel (I'm just not up to big words like glucose tonight). A mammoth with modern elephant (or cow, or pig, or sheep) mitochondria is a mammoth as far as I'm concerned.

(now that that's out of my system...)

The Dolly technique is crusty in other ways, but it should work well enough to get some hairy elephants walking around northern Asia. Well, not quite the Dolly technique... this requires something a little more complicated, but IMHO doable in a year or two with enough money (or ten years from now in somebody's back yard).

I'd agree with you on the DNA bit, but they've got a whole mammoth. That's one heck of a DNA sample! They should be able to patch up the cracks with that big a sample.

It's been done. (2)

TheDullBlade (28998) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598075)

Animals have given birth to implanted fetuses of other species. I can't remember the exact details of an example... I think there was a rare type of cat that another cat of a common species gave birth to...

Re:Tortured? WTF? (1)

Kyobu (12511) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598076)

Aside from reproductive problems, which perhaps could be solved, I don't think the mammoth is going to care much. They don't really go in for Tuesday night bridge games, from what I hear.

Re:the questions is... (1)

Coward, Anonymous (55185) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598077)

can you export a cloned mammoth outside the usa?

That depends on how many floating-point operations per second the mammoth can perform.

Re:Why... (2)

chris_strong (63258) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598078)

Tortured creature? "Resurrected in the name of science?"

How about resurrected in the name of fuzzy critters with trunks?

How is the mammoth "tortured"? Because after death he did not rot with the Glory Of Nature? Because pleistocene worms were deprived of a meal?

I'm all for the cloning. I hope that I shall soon
see mammoths grazing across the permafrost.

Wonderful animals, Mammoths...

... (1)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598079)

All I gotta say is that I wouldn't want to be the janitor that works at the cloning lab when that mammoth is brought in. I mean, you've seen how much a COW can leave behind.. just imagine a prehistorical version of a cow and well... if you've ever driven through the countryside during the spring... you know what I mean....


Re:Again? (1)

Kyobu (12511) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598080)

I don't knw about mammoth (they died on their own), but for animals that were driven to extinction by humans, I'm entirely in favor of resurrection. Mammoth might have trouble surviving in such a climatically and environmentally different world, though.

tasmanian tigers == tasmanian wolves (1)

TheDullBlade (28998) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598081)

to-MAY-to to-MAH-to

Re:Why... (1)

Bill Currie (487) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598082)

'Cause we killed the mammoths off in the first place?

inbreeding is not insurmountable (3)

TheDullBlade (28998) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598083)

While inbreeding can cause problems, often severe ones, it is not a death sentence. You can create an entire population from a single pair of siblings. Release a mating pair of rabbits on an island with no predators and lots of food, and come back in a few years; if you don't find rabbits, you probably won't find anything green either.

Why clone the darn thing at all? (3)

e2gle (97925) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598084)

And I'm not talking ethics here...

Why would you use an infant technology to create copies of dead Mammoths if there was a possibility that they had pure, frozen GAMETES?

With the in-vitro fertilization we have today,
Here's a recipe for baby Mammoth:
Preheat Elephant Uterus to 100 degrees or so,
1 part frozen Mammoth sperm
1 frozen Mammoth egg,
let incubate in a test tube for a short while, place in elephant uterus and let bake for 1.5 years or so.

We've had the technology to do this for quite some time, again, it's just a matter whether the gamete material has decayed in the past 3,000 years. But from what I know, sperm and eggs are frozen and thawed all the time without damage.

Re:Why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1598085)

Really? Thanks for pointing that out.. I was under the impression I was expressing an opinion that everyone shared in the entire world. Thanks for setting me straight...

Did somebody say McDonalds? (2)

Maxwax (6219) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598086)

duh. :]

the European community (1)

paxx (91110) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598087)

I wonder what the European community would say to having mammoth instead of beef. Given their recent reactions to genetically engineered products of any kind whatsoever, I would guess that the product would not be received with kindness.

Beowolf cluster of Wooly Mammoths! (1)

PsychoKiller (20824) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598088)

Wow. I'd hate to see that coming at me at full speed.

Re:Wolly Burgers (1)

Mr. Piccolo (18045) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598089)

I won't bother making the obvious snide remark here... surprising no one has yet.

Re:Again? (1)

peter (3389) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598090)

Well, you got the equation right, but you mis-typed
one of the variables. (I'm feeling pedantic now :)
#define X(x,y) x##y

mammoth herds and food sources (1)

paxx (91110) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598091)

Using the mammoth as a food source might be helpful to our food supply. Mammoths, being much bigger than cows, could provide more food, as well as textiles and various other products. They can probably also survive in more adverse climates than cattle and other livestock, increasing their usability. Land deemed otherwise unusable could be used for grazing and keeping mammoth herds, which would alleviate some of the growing population without growing resources problem.

You're missing.. (2)

Kitsune Sushi (87987) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598092)

..a fundamental drive amongst scientists everywhere: the urgent need to accomplish something because we can (specifically, to prove this notion), not necessarily because we should (or can even find a useful application of the discovery that would validate the time and effort expended).

Whether or not the mammoth would be "tortured" is not an argument I care to play into (especially since arguments on such topics seem to be especially shallow), but I might point out that the more animals we are able to clone, the closer we get to cloning an actual human, which is something that certainly sparks a lot of interest among scientists and the world at large.

I've made the down payment (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598093)

I just got pre-approved credit for my own Mammoth. Sure its costly, but I'm going to recoop the cost by taking him on a circus-like tour along with one other elephant. Our first stop? A meeting of the Kansas school board. See how even an elephant looks graceful compared to this archaic beast? Its called evolution people. And if some Mammoth poop happens to cover all the cars of the fundies all the better. All proceeds go towards the purchase of brand new science books which teach evolution and my mammoth spends the rest of his days in the zoo.

Sometimes it takes a 20,000 year old extinct mammoth to teach people how not to be stupid.

At the University of Alaska Fairbanks (1)

LetterRip (30937) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598094)

there is a story in the mining engineering department about a company that stumbled upon a frozen mammoth while digging a mine (this was about ten years ago?). Legally speaking they were suppossed to report it, but doing so would have certainly resulted in the shutting down of the mine and subsequent loss of jobs and money, thus instead a major barbeque was held in which they made mammoth steaks. Apparently they tasted awful (talk about serious freezer burn!)

Of course I'm certain fresh McMammoth burgers would be great.


Re:Yes, but... (4)

drox (18559) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598095)

Introducing an element that was once part of [an ecosystem], but is no longer is does just as much harm to an ecosystem as introducing a specimen that has never been there at all.

That's speculation. The former has never been done before. The latter has been done many times (sometimes deliberately, sometimes inadvertently; sometimes by humans, sometimes by wind, ocean currents, etc.) with varying results.
Speculation is a good thing - we ought to consider all the possibilities before reintroducing an extinct species - but it's still speculation. It is by no means certain that it will be disasterous, as the introduction on non-native species has frequently been.

If we re-introduce Wooly Mammoths into nature, we don't know how well they will adapt, and we don't know how well nature will adapt around them.

True, but consider. Mammoths are much like present-day elephants. Megafauna. Long-lived. Few predators. Slow maturation. Slow reproduction. What population biologists would call K-strategists. Introduced species that become a problem for native ones are almost invariably r-strategists (A notable exception being the most invasive species of all - humans). R-strategists are typically small creatures. Short-lived. Normally subject to intense predation in their native environment. Rapid maturation. Very rapid reproduction. These things combine to give introduced species an edge in their new, predator-free environments. They're not likely to be a problem in the case of wooly mammoths.

Cloned wooly mammoths would probably not be released into the wild right away, but kept in zoos, or penned up on research farms for study. Given their slow rate of reproduction, it'd be a very long time before there were enough of them to have much of an impact on their environment.

One more thing - wooly mammoths have probably been extinct for only a few thousand years. As no other creature has appeared to fill the niche previously occupied by the mammoths in that short time, I suspect their reintroduction to Siberia would have little negative impact, assuming they ever were released (or escaped) into the wild.

100 degrees? (2)

Bill Currie (487) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598096)

I hope that's feirenhight (sp?), a uterus won't work too well when it's boiled.

The bad thing is.... (1)

Cplus (79286) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598097)

The techniques used in modern egg and sperm freezing are quite different from just laying down and freezing to death. It is quite hard to flash freeze something without damaging it. The people who freeze bodies for re-animation (ie. Walt DiZnee) do so with very complex processes involving liquid nitrogen and such. I'm no expert but I'd say that even if the mammoth had fallen into sub-zero water and been frozen relatively quickly it would still be too damaged to be used in modern fertilization processes.

Re:inbreeding is not insurmountable (1)

mmontour (2208) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598098)

A very basic understanding of genetics would suggest that you could even clone the female from a male by removing the Y chromosome and adding an extra copy of the X. Is this possible?

Also, if you take the bible literally, there must have been some inbreeding in the garden of Eden and in Noah's family after the flood, so it can't be all that harmful to a species. :-)

Straight out of Loony Toons (1)

talltim (104771) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598099)

I just saw some footage of them lifting out the mammoth. A huge block of ice, with two tusks jutting outwards. Very amusing.

Re:Um, not really... (2)

Adalie (102820) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598100)

If I found the correct numbers, we only had 22 condors in 1982 and there's now 120. Given that, a couple of hundred mammoths might be nice, but is likely not required to ensure adequate genetic diversity in a species. No one's saying we should give up on condors... Does anyone have solid data on a minimum number needed? I've read other mammoths have been found in Siberia, so perhaps we're not limited to this one creature's DNA.

Re:edible? (1)

Roblimo (357) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598101)

That may have been a Mastodon. When I was a small child, back in about 1959, the father of a friend worked for Bechtel, a construction company that built a lot of air bases and radar stations (remember the DEW line?) in Alaska, Greenland, and N. Canada. They found frozen Mastodons now and then. Ed Flavin (Sr.) brought us back some meat from one after one of his trips and we each ate a tiny slice. I don't remember how it tasted, but it was cool to eat meat that old, and it obviously didn't kill me. ;)

Re:I've made the down payment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1598102)

>Sometimes it takes a 20,000 year old extinct mammoth to teach people how not to be stupid.

Apparently even THAT doesn't work, your post being proof of this.

Re:It is refreshing...A bit off topic (1)

Listerine (7695) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598103)

What do you mean "suffered human footprints"? Are we not inhabitants of this planet as well? I've got news... believe it or not we are part of nature too, although we sometimes disrupt severly what happens around us, just us being there does not ruin it.

Re:Old DNA is BAD (1)

Dogun (7502) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598104)

Not only is temperature an issue, as suggested above, but one should also consider the sheer magnitude of this find. Even if the DNA is in pretty bad shape, they've probably got enough of it that it can somehow be replicated as whole chromosomes. Not that I'm aware of such a process. Not that I'm a biologist...

Bah. Whatever

Light a candle, they call it romantic. Light a city, they call it arson. Go figure.

Re:inbreeding is not insurmountable (1)

coreybrenner (19101) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598105)

> ... can't be all that harmful to a species.

I dunno... look at us humans. There were what, four humans on Noah's ark, of which two shared genes (Noah and his son), and only one pair of which (the son and his wife) presumably reproduced? Hell, look what happened to us!


Re:It's been done. Yes it has. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1598106)

I believe they once made a horse give birth to a zebra.

Re:Why... (1)

Skim123 (3322) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598107)

Agreed. God is no more than a group of scientists on a planet like Earth. Perhaps our Universe was created on accident, or was "unknowingly" created by a bunch of overzealous scientists on some planet...

Re:NOT unlikely (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1598108)

We would find mammoth parts (thou not this good of shape ) around
Naknek Alaska (and all over Bristol Bay region),

when I was in 9th grade in 1984, we went on a science
trip to the beach in town, and one kid found a rear wolly tooth,
looked just like in the book. talk about a REAL experiance...

don't know about the eating story....

also when they dug to put the sewer system in for the town, they
were always quietly carting away pails full of mammoth parts and tusks, for
fear of shutting down the project.

mike skup

Re:No, not again. (1)

Ice_Hole (87701) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598115)

Actually, It was on TV.. I remember it now. I usually listen to the TV and read slashdot at the same time.. That way, in a very, very rare case, taht their is somthing on TV taht is even remotely interesting I don't miss it while reading slashdot. So it was on TV, not on Slashdot. But to me it was actually fairly old news. Anyway's, on with the discussion..

((So many different media types to keep track of.. Can't wait for the neural implant :p

Re:Why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1598116)

God created humans in his own image, to be in many ways like Him. Says so in the Bible.

One of things that means is that humans will create things, and will master life itself to some extent. That appears to be what God had in mind.

I don't see anything sacreligious in cloning extinct creatures. God made them, too, why should He object if we want to take a look at a live one?

Re:Advanced Thawing Techniques (1)

livewirevoodoo (74316) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598117)

I saw this on a list of Murphy's laws of combat but I think It applies to just about everything...

If its stupid but it works, its not stupid.

Discover magazine article on cloning mammoths (5)

psychonaut (65759) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598118)

Actually, to circumvent some of these issues, scientists are considering creating mammoth/elephant hybrids. Sure, they'd be only half-mammoth, but it'd still be cool. Apparently, the whole thing is being financed by wealthy Japanese businessmen. For those interested in exactly how it's going to be done, check out "Cloning the Wolly Mammoth [] " which appears in the April 1999 issue of Discover Magazine [] . It was one of the most interesting biology-related articles I've read in months.

So far as I've read, one of the biggest obstacles in undertaking this whole cloning thing is that it's going to take a long time before we see any results. Assuming we are able to impregnate an elephant with a mammoth or half-mammoth zygote, the gestation period of an elephant is anywhere from 600 to 760 days(!), and it takes ten or twelve years for an elephant calf to reach sexual maturity. Even if everything goes according to plan, we won't know if we have a viable mammoth (or half-mammoth) for well over a decade after conception.


Re:Wolly Burgers (1)

DrMaurer (64120) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598119)

Actually, until the late 20's, you could actually buy the stuff. Quit a delecacy for those who could afford it.

For the record, they died for a reason . . .


If Your Interested (3)

chain (22865) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598120)

You can download the video of them pulling it out and all that at, fairly interesting. []

Re:It is refreshing...A bit off topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1598121)

The Tasmanian Wolf must have been extinct for a hell of a long time. I have lived here (Tassie)most of my life and never heard of it. Perhaps you mean the Tasmanian Tiger, or Thylacine. If you do, there is debate as to whether it is extinct or not. There have been reported sightings recently. There is wilderness here that has never suffered human footprints, so no one can say for certain if they are extinct or not. No doubt there are some /.'ers that will take pleasure in enlightening me though I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.

Elephant burgers? (1)

Ripat (19963) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598124)

nah... I dont think I want one...

Re:Yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1598125)

IANABiologist, but I seem to recall reading somewhere (Discovery or Science News, I think) that elephants and IIRC, rhino's and a few other species are the survivors of a major evolutionary trend around the last ice age: big animals (Irish Elk, mammoths, etc) A trend that ended along with the ice age, whether because of human intervention, or simple inability to adapt. If the latter is true--and I seem to recall that that's what the article stated--I can't see any pressing reason to undo the past and reintroduce the species just because cloning is available and neat. (Actually, I can't see any reason anyway, but some people may see an ethical issue if their extiction was caused by humans; this would (hopefully) not apply if it was a 'natural' event.)

I suppose the only way this relates to your post, directly, is regarding the niche filled by the mammoths--specifically, whether it was mearly vacated by their extinction, or whether it was removed altogether.

Re:Why... (1)

Ripat (19963) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598134)

Consider what would happen if you put a big, really huge, over sized, canon in a small rowboat. What happens if you fire it? The boat sinks...

I think that it's pretty much the same thing as if we are trying to play with the foundations of life, without first knowing all the rules.

I don't think it's possible to know what the longterm effects, of the introduction of geneticly modified creatures, on our environment will be.

How much studying do you need to do?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1598135)

'Samples have been sent to a laboratory for possible attempts to clone the animal, and
scientists will study the carcass to try to find out why and how it died.'

Alright, it was found well below the surface in an "icy grave." Now forgive me, but I think I can come up with a pretty accurate description of why and how it died. It fell in.

Re:y'all don't get it do you (1)

skelly (38870) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598136)

Are you really supposed to sit there and tell us that the world is only 6-10,000 years old? If that is the case then you miss the point of the article and the whole video. We know from corraboratory evidence how long it takes for certain events to happen like: tree rings, carbon dating, the movement of the continents, the shift of the earth's axis, the change of the northern celestial pole, etc. All together it means that the earth is 4.5 billion years old.
Getting back to the mammoth, the glacial permafrost was dated to 23,000 years ago. That is around the time of the last ice age when humans were coming out of Siberia and into North America through a land bridge in Alaska. Evolutions does not say how old a creature is or was, just how long ago a creature came into existnce and how long its specie lasted.

I will never understand why some people insist on clinging to children's fairy stories into adulthood. Must be comforting to think that man is the center of all things-- the truth would be terrifying.

Re:y'all don't get it do you (3)

Thanatopsis (29786) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598137)

I can only assume this post is flame bait. Elephants are related to mammoths, not directly descended from them.

Hmm, doesn't evolution say they were several hundred thousand or even a couple million years old? Guess Science has failed and God wins this round yet AGAIN

I am unsure what science you are using here. Mammoths were an adaptive change dating to the beginning of the last ice age. They died out towards the end, although their may have been a few kicking around still 5-6 thousand years ago.

BTW, I personally believe the earth is younger than that, like around 6-10 thousand years old.

Using generational dating from the King James Bible? That's questionable even among die hard creationists. I would suggest you take a closer look at the Talmud before jumping into any strange forays into highly dubious math.

Oh yeah and all the evidence the universe is billions of years old. I alway find it amazing that people seem to think that God is a rather limited thinker and something as complex and novel as evolution would utterly impossible for him to think up. Exactly why should we trust a text so crusty and old that we can't properly translate the original language. God is a lot smarter than you, me and the guy who wrote the Bible.

In Khatanga? (2)

Keith McClary (14340) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598138)

"Now i'm wondering, what do you do in a power failure? You have a huge, several thousand year old meat pack in your lab freezer, and it begins to defrost......."

In Khatanga it probably gets a bit colder
because you don't have the heat from the light
bulbs. My globe shows 4 places closer to the
pole, 3 nearby in Russia & Thule Greenland.

But the amazing thing about these frozen
mammoths is that there must have been a fairly
mild climate to produce enough veggies to keep
them going. Then it got much colder so suddenly
that they didn't rot or get eaten by scavengers
- and stayed that way since.

Do you want to restart your computer now?

Re:Mammoth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1598139)

Wimpy City?

Wow, you've never actually BEEN to San Francisco, have you?

Hmm cloning... skeptical... (4)

smoondog (85133) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598142)

I'm skeptical about cloning ancient things from their DNA. DNA, even more than most macromolecules, needs to be constantly repaired. If you leave DNA sitting around it will slowly lose its properties. For example, UV light causes a process called pyrimidine dimerization where adjacent pyrimidine bases fuse in a specific manner. It is estimated that we have over 10,000 pyrimidine dimerization events that happen every day in our bodies, all of which are quickly and systematically repaired. This is simply one example of a way in which DNA can become damaged if not fixed constantly -- there are others. Something I never hear from the proponents of such techniques is how they get the info INTACT.

Granted, the DNA may be good enough to do RFLiPs or other restriction enzyme digestion technique and get reasonable data. But, and this is a big but, for a diploid organism to work properly we need (two) copies of each gene that will be used to work. I, as a biochemist, don't believe that we have the ability to isolate two copies of nearly perfect DNA....

-- Moondog

Hmmmm (1)

ZX81 (105194) | more than 14 years ago | (#1598144)

And what about a host? An elephant? And is the DNA in tact? I am opposed to the cloning of extinct animals. Reason being: I feel that things happen for a reason. Life revolves around the survival of the fittest. If you are not the fittest then in time you will die out. Of course, this is not flamebait - I don't necessarily hold the same opinion for animals which have been eradicated by humans. Also, I am not the worlds greatest historian and I don't know what it was that killed them off. We as a planet are currently not capable of looking after the animals that exist now. Until we can I don't feel that we should be introducing new species. Another point (sorry if I'm dragging on a bit here!), what if the reason that this animal died was because of some huge (yet unknown) disease? We bring it back to life and it could take out the human race. Using our current set of theories we believe a particular reason for the dissapearance o the species (sorry, once again I don't know specifics). But how many times have theories that were taken to be 100% fact been proved incorrect? The world is flat?

Re:y'all don't get it do you (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1598145)

Without taking to task your bad jump of logic, I'll just point out that although mammoths probably existed as long as some few hundreds of thousands of years ago, their demise is linked to the end of the last Ice Age, roughly twelve to fifteen thousand years ago.

We've known this for a long time; a 23,000 year old mammoth fits perfectly with existing knowledge.

Or, more to the point, it's not mutually exclusive to say that mammoths were around 100,000 years ago, and that they were around 10,000 years ago.

Getting your premises correct _BEFORE_ coming to conclusions is usually considered a good idea.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?