Russians Want to Clone a 40,000-Year-Old Baby Horse...Then a Woolly Mammoth

Thursday, 06 September 2018 - 11:46AM
Science News
Thursday, 06 September 2018 - 11:46AM
Russians Want to Clone a 40,000-Year-Old Baby Horse...Then a Woolly Mammoth
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Image Credit: Pixabay Composite
It has been 22 years since scientists successfully cloned the first mammal (RIP Dolly the Sheep) and over a century since the cloning of a sea urchin. Since then cloning has graduated to pigs, goats, and even dead pets, but scientists are not stopping there. According to recent reports, Russian and South Korean researchers want to clone an extinct horse species using DNA that was extracted from a 40,000-year-old foal. If all goes according to plan, not only will they have resurrected the long-dead baby horse, but they will be one step closer to the ultimate goal: bringing back the woolly mammoth. 



Found 30 meters deep in the Siberian permafrost last month, the preserved horse (Lenskaya) is believed to have only been 20 days old when it died and entered its icy grave, a crater known as the "Mouth of Hell," or the "Gateway to the Underworld." The horse's body was completely intact down to the hair and hooves, which made getting tissue samples a lot easier. Leading stem cell research scientist and former Seoul National University professor Hwang Woo Suk joined the project to oversee the DNA extraction for the cloning process. "We are trying to make a primary culture using this baby horse," Suk said. "If we get live cells from this ancient baby horse, it is a wonderful promise to people in terms of cloning." The researchers say that modern-day horses are very close to the ancient Lena horse, so the plan is to implant a cloned embryo into a female surrogate instead of growing it inside of a lab. 

Scientists have been working on merging woolly mammoth DNA with that of an elephant in lab environments, but implanting a hybrid embryo inside of a living elephant to be born is the dream. A win in the extinct horse trials could be the key that they have been looking for to get that real-life Pleistocene Park up and running.
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