The woolly mammoth has long since disappeared, having been extinguished thousands of years ago, but in recent years efforts to test the possibility of bringing back the species have been numerous. . No, we are not talking about Jurassic Parkcloning – at least not yet – but a gigantic specimen discovered almost ten years ago brings scientists closer to realizing this dream than ever before.
The mammoth, named Yuka, was found frozen in Siberia in 2010. Miraculously, even after thousands of years dormant, Japanese scientists have recently managed to bring back to life some of the animal's biological material.
As CNN Akira Iritani, a 90-year-old Japanese biologist who was waiting for the chance to resuscitate the mammoth, was part of a large research team that collected Yuka's biological samples in the hope of bringing them back from the brink.
"We recovered the less damaged nucleus type structures from the remnants and visualized their dynamics in live mouse oocytes after nuclear transfer," the researchers wrote in a new article published in Scientific reports.
In simple terms, the scientists took the heart of the "dormant" but damaged mammoth cells and swapped them into living mouse reproductive cells in a process called nuclear transfer (NT). Against all odds, the cells began to wake up, bringing back to life a tiny woolly mammoth.
However, as promising as it may seem, it is far from reviving extinct species. There are still important hurdles to overcome before considering such a thing, let alone being tempted, especially to find samples of a woolly mammoth that has been preserved and whose DNA has withstood the test over time.
In addition, modern nuclear transfer techniques would probably not be sufficient to clone and resuscitate an animal. That being said, this work could still serve as a basis for future efforts to bring the species back to life.
"Although the results presented here clearly show that it is de facto impossible to clone the mammoth with current NT technology, our approach paves the way for assessing the biological activities of nuclei in extinct animal species," explains 'team.