The woolly mammoth has not roamed the earth for over 10,000 years, rumored sightings in Siberia aside, but scientists in Russia and South Korea are hoping to change that after agreeing to collaborate on a project to clone the extinct Ice Age beast.
A research deal was signed Tuesday between North-Eastern Federal University of the Sakha Republic in Russia and South Korea's Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, Agence France-Press reported.
The scientists will attempt to clone cells from woolly mammoth remains uncovered in the Siberian tundra.
The first and hardest mission is to restore mammoth cells, Sooam researcher Hwang In-Sung told AFP. This is particularly difficult because the mammoth tissue has to be very-well preserved for the cells to contain undamaged genes, which can then be cloned.
The scientists plan to replace the nuclei of an Indian elephant egg with cells containing mammoth DNA, which will then be placed in the elephant's womb for gestation and birth.
The particular cells that will be extracted are called somatic cells, which are responsible for the development of internal organs, skin, bones and blood.
This will be a really tough job, but we believe it is possible because our institute is good at cloning animals, Hwang In-Sung told AFP.
Sooam has had prior success using the cloning technique with dogs. In 2005, Sooam researcher Hwang Woo-Suk successfully cloned the first dog. While Hwang's dog cloning was verified, it was later discovered that he fabricated data while conducting researching on cloning human stem cells. He subsequently resigned from his post at Sooma.