Woolly Mammoth Resurrection, "Jurassic Park" Planned
for National Geographic News
April 8, 2005
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 (see photo).
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.
"If we create a mammoth, we will know much more about these animals, their history, and why they went extinct," said Kazufumi Goto, head scientist at the Mammoth Creation Project. The venture is privately funded and includes researchers from various institutions in Japan.
Many mammoth experts scoff at the idea, calling it scientifically impossible and even morally irresponsible.
"DNA preserved in ancient tissues is fragmented into thousands of tiny pieces nowhere near sufficiently preserved to drive the development of a baby mammoth," said Adrian Lister, a paleontologist at University College London in England.
Furthermore, Lister added, "the natural habitat of the mammoth no longer exists. We would be creating an animal as a theme park attraction. Is this ethical?"