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RUSSIAN boffins are engaged in an ambitious project to bring back the woolly mammoth from extinction in a groundbreaking cloning experiment.
Scientists are searching for and studying cells in the remains of well-preserved ancient animals, exploring the possibility of cloning them after they have become extinct.
Experiments are underway in Yakutia, in the Sakha Republic, which could also see the cloning of extinct cave lions and ancient horses in a joint venture with a team from South Korea and Japan.
Scientists are using DNA from ancient animals that have been preserved in frozen soil – or permafrost – for tens of thousands of years.
Leading scientist Aisen Nikolaev explained that the animals could be cloned and released from the laboratory into an Ice Age palaeogenetic scientific centre within the next 10 years.
“The prospect was no longer fantastical,” he said.
“Today, technology is developing at an explosive pace, and what yesterday seemed to be scientific nonsense, today is an absolutely clear prospect for scientists.”
Soviet scientists first tried to revive the mammoth in the 1960s, with the aim to revive mammoth cells and artificially impregnate an Asian elephant with the resulting egg, but repeated attempts have proven fruitless.
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