American children have long been obsessed with the ancient monsters that once galavanted across some version of our national landscape.
These beasts, whose fossils are found from sea to shining sea in our great nation, captivate us not only with their sheer size, but with their bizarre anatomy and ferocious capabilities.
Of course, the idea of somehow bringing these creatures back to life has long been a part of the pop culture vernacular thanks to films such as Jurassic park.
Unfortunately, dinosaur DNA isn’t quite as easy to work with as Hollywood wrote it, but scientists do feel somewhat optimistic about the possibility of bringing back another long-extinct creature: The Woolly Mammoth.
This week, those efforts crossed a major threshold.
New findings indicate that the resurrection of mammoths is not a fantasy, a research team including members from Kindai University is saying, after cell nuclei extracted from the 28,000-year-old remains of a woolly mammoth were discovered to retain some function.
When placed in the ova of mice, the nuclei developed to a state just before cellular division, according to a paper published Monday in the British journal Scientific Reports.Advertisement - story continues below
The team includes researchers from Japanese and Russian universities. It has been working for about 20 years on a project to use cloning to resurrect mammoths, an animal that has long been extinct.
Luckily for scientists, they were able to locate an extremely well-preserved sample.
The cell nuclei used in the team’s recent findings were extracted from musculature and other tissue from Yuka, an about 3.5-meter-long female woolly mammoth excavated nearly intact in 2010 from permafrost in Siberia. When inserted into mouse ova, five out of 43 nuclei were observed to develop to a point just before the nuclei would split in two as a result of cell division.
Of course, there have long been ethical and moral concerns about the resurrection of extinct animals, with many of America’s faithful unenthused about the blurring line between science and divine creation.