Scientists Work On Reviving A 28,000-Year-Old Woolly Mammoth


While woolly mammoth has disappeared thousands of years ago, it appears that some researchers are planning to bring one of them back to life. Biologist Kazuo Yamagata from the Kindai University in Japan and his team managed to transplant the nuclei from mammoth’s cells to a mouse. The cells were taken from a 28,000-year-old woolly mammoth, which was nicknamed Yuka.

“I’d been trying to find dormant mammoth cells for 20 years, but as I’m (now) 90, I thought I should just give up and accept death,” says Iritani, an animal reproduction expert and former director of the Institute of Advanced Technology at Kindai University in Wakayama, Japan. “I’m so happy with this latest research. It feels like Yuka was waiting for me to find her.”

Scientists transplanted 28,000-year-old woolly mammoth cells to a mouse

While the experiment appeared to be a success, as there was some biological activity in the cells, that does not mean that the cells were revived. “It’s a bit of a far reach to say that they’ve woken up woolly mammoth cells. What they saw was mostly the [mouse] oocyte trying to do something with that DNA,” explained Lawrence Smith, a geneticist and reproductive biologist at the University of Montreal Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. “Maybe the nucleus swelled a bit, which may indicate there was some incorporation of proteins, but it’s not clear that did happen at all,” he added.

More than that, mice and woolly mammoths are very distant relatives in terms of evolution. The species are different, so the experiment couldn’t have generated incredible results. According to Smith, the outcome “doesn’t really confirm whether it’s the oocyte or the [mammoth] nucleus doing anything. I think a lot of other experiments need to be done to show whether [activity] is actually coming from the nucleus and not the oocyte.”


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