Arctic hunt finds mammoth remains

 
A handout photo taken on 28 August 2012 by Russia's North-Eastern Federal University shows researchers working on mammoth tissue fragments discovered in the far north of the vast Yakutia region of eastern Siberia The mammoth remains were retrieved from a tunnel dug into the permafrost

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A Russian-led expedition has found what it says are well preserved mammoth remains in Siberia but has downplayed reports that the material could be used to clone the ancient beast.

The skin and bone were recovered from a tunnel dug into the permafrost in the Ust-Yansk area of the Yakutia region on Russia's Arctic coast.

The team hopes to find intact DNA that can be used to reproduce the creature.

But a member of the group told Reuters news agency this was doubtful.

"We are counting on our region's permafrost to have kept some cells alive. But it is unlikely," said Semyon Grigoryev, a professor at North-East Federal University (NEFU).

Most of the scientific community is highly sceptical that any mammoth cloning project could succeed. Genetic material still present in ancient remains would be so degraded as to make the task impracticable, experts say.

Mammoths first appeared in the Pliocene Epoch, 4.8 million years ago.

What caused their widespread disappearance at the end of the last Ice Age remains unclear; but climate change, overkill by human hunters, or a combination of both could have been to blame.

Most were gone by about 10,000 years ago, although one population lived on in isolation on Russia's remote Wrangel Island until about 5,000 years ago.

Correction 13 September 2012: This story has been amended to make clear scientists are doubtful they will find live cells.

 

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  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 40.

    They are gone, gone gone, species that have had their time should be left alone, we are learning of species becoming extinct all the time time. So what do we do with them when they are recreated?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 39.

    Apparently they went extinct because our ancestors ate them all, so I think it's a good assumption that they were tasty.

    Fingers crossed this cloning works, looking forward to Mammoth steaks/burgers in Waitrose. :)

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 38.

    We should bring back the Thylacine first as that is a recent extinction done delibrately by stupid humans there was a project in oz to clone the DNA of a preseved specimen I believe.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 37.

    Why would you want to clone them?

    As a science student I can think of many reasons why we should clone them, to sudy about them, to see if we can successfully clone extinct animals, etc.

    But they are long gone. Do you HAVE to clone them?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 36.

    @30.Bradford
    Don't be silly. Although I applaud the idea of bringing back a creature from the past - something that hopefully will allow us to restore the others man has destroyed - it is typical of the BBC to give a HYS on such a subject and yet to withhold that chance for the important stories of the day.
    The BBC is no more than a government mouth piece. And criticism is not welcome

 

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