Woolly Mammoth Resurrection, Northern Siberia "Pleistocene Park" PlannedWoolly Mammoth Resurrection, "Jurassic Park" Planned
for National Geographic News
A team of Japanese genetic scientists aims to bring woolly mammoths back to life and create a Jurassic Park-style refuge for resurrected species.The effort has garnered new attention as a frozen mammoth is drawing crowds at the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi, Japan
Wooly Mammoth at Aichi Expo
The team of scientists, which is not associated with the exhibit, wants to do more than just put a carcass on display. They aim to revive the Ice Age plant-eaters, 10,000 years after they went extinct.
Their plan: to retrieve sperm from a mammoth frozen in tundra, use it to impregnate an elephant, and then raise the offspring in a safari park in the Siberian wild.
At the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago, woolly mammoths dwindled to extinction as warming weather diminished their food sources, most scientists believe.
There are believed to be ten million mammoths buried in permanently frozen soil in Siberia. Because of the sparse human population in the region, though, only about a hundred specimens have been discovered, including two dozen complete skeletons. Only a handful of complete carcasses have been found.
In 2002 hunters stumbled across the mammoth now on display in Japan. After a period of relatively warm weather, the head of the beast had been left protruding through the snow and ice cover.
The scientists with the Mammoth Creation Project are hoping to find a mammoth that is sufficiently well preserved in the ice to enable them to extract sperm DNA from the frozen remains.
They will then inject the sperm DNA into a female elephant, the mammoth's modern-day counterpart. By repeating the procedure with offspring, scientists say, they could produce a creature that is 88 percent mammoth within 50 years.
Iritani is planning a summer expedition to Siberia to search for more carcasses.
His team has already picked out a home for living mammoths in northern Siberia. The preserve, dubbed Pleistocene Park, could feature not only mammoths, but also extinct species of deer, woolly rhinoceroses, and even saber-toothed cats, he said.
"This is an extension of my work for the past 20 years in trying to save endangered species," Iritani said. [ He added, " But this is only the beginning ah ha ha ha ha." ]
Woolly Mammoth Resurrection, "Jurassic Park" Planned