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HomeAnimalResurrecting the Woolly Mammoth: Scientists Uncover 28,000-Year-Old Cells with Signs of Viability

Resurrecting the Woolly Mammoth: Scientists Uncover 28,000-Year-Old Cells with Signs of Viability

Scientists at Japan’s Kindai University have made an astonishing discovery that has sent shockwaves through the research community: the DNA of a young woolly mammoth, believed to be an incredible 28,000 years old, still exhibits signs of viability. This remarkable finding has sparked hope that this majestic prehistoric creature could be resurrected.

The preserved mammoth, excavated from the Siberian permafrost in 2011, has fascinated scientists who have been eager to explore the potential of its biological materials. Now, their persistence has paid off as the researchers successfully extracted nuclei from the ancient mammoth’s cells and transplanted them into mouse oocytes, which can develop into an egg cell through genetic division.

A time-lapse of mouse oocyte cells injected with mammoth nuclei. Kindai University/Scientific Reports

The groundbreaking result? The mammoth cells displayed “signs of biological activities,” suggesting that cellular functions could still be reactivated even after millennia. This discovery has ignited excitement among scientists, raising the possibility of partially recreating this long-extinct species.

Moreover, the experiment yielded unexpected outcomes, with five cells demonstrating signs of activity usually observed prior to cell division. This breakthrough indicates that the mammoth’s DNA could still be functional, although significant work remains before a complete mammoth revival becomes feasible.

Image credit: Kindai University

Unraveling the viability of the mammoth’s cells was no easy task. Researchers painstakingly examined bone marrow and muscle tissue samples from the mammoth’s leg, searching for intact nucleus-like structures. Once found, these structures were extracted and combined with mouse oocytes, followed by the introduction of mouse proteins. The mammoth cells exhibited the remarkable ability to undergo nuclear reconstitution, providing compelling evidence of active nuclei within remains dating back an astonishing 28,000 years.

While lead study author Kei Miyamoto acknowledges that reviving a complete mammoth is still a distant prospect, many researchers working on gene-editing techniques remain optimistic about its feasibility. The controversial CRISPR gene-editing tool has shown promise in recent endeavors and holds potential for this groundbreaking achievement.

Image credit: Ruth Hartnup

The possibility of resurrecting an extinct creature is undeniably awe-inspiring, pushing the limits of scientific possibility. However, this accomplishment also raises profound ethical questions and responsibilities. As researchers venture into uncharted territories, careful consideration of the consequences and respect for the delicate balance of our planet’s ecosystem is crucial.

Image credit: Apotea

Although the full revival of a woolly mammoth remains a tantalizing dream, each step taken toward unlocking the secrets of the past brings us closer to a deeper understanding of our planet’s history and its potential implications for the future. As the scientific community continues to innovate, we find ourselves on the precipice of a world where the giants of the past may walk among us once more. The woolly mammoth’s potential resurgence serves as a powerful testament to human ingenuity and our unwavering quest to unravel the mysteries of our planet’s ancient past.

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