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Baby mammoth could bring prehistoric species back to life

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/22/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Ethical questions are raised with the possibility of fossil's cloning

A perfectly preserved baby mammoth, discovered seven years ago in the wilds of Siberia, is exciting the scientific community. Dubbed "Lyuba," the 33-inch tall mammoth has perfectly preserved internal organs, raising the possibility that the mammoth's remains could be used for cloning purposes, bringing the Ice Age giant back into the modern day. This has brought up a host of questions for scientists to ponder.

According to some folklore, mammoths are controlled by underworld gods and in some instances can bring an early death to those who touch them.

According to some folklore, mammoths are controlled by underworld gods and in some instances can bring an early death to those who touch them.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
5/22/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Mammoth, cloning, ethics, Siberia


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Dr. Victoria Herridge, a dwarf elephant expert, has her doubts.

"In order to produce a clone of Lyuba," she says, "You would need to have really high-quality nuclear DNA [located within the nucleus of cells]. However, because Lyuba did partially decompose before the pickling and freezing process, there is too much cell and DNA damage to make cloning viable."

Starvation never takes a vacation --

Herridge also has severe ethical doubts about any attempt to bring back the mammoth.

In order to do so, an Asian elephant would have to act as a surrogate mother, which would be subjected to a lifetime of testing and invasive procedures.

"Don't forget," Herridge notes, "Mammoths are about as closely related to elephants as we are to chimpanzees. Implanting a mammoth into an elephant would therefore be like implanting a chimpanzee into a human female."

Recreating the mammoth would also have little relevance in scientific terms.

"What would we actually learn if we did this?" she asks. "What's the benefit for humanity?"

Lyuba's introduction to the modern world is a comical one. First discovered seven years ago by a Siberian reindeer breeder called Yuri Khudi, he first spotted the bald corpse on a sandbar in the river, Yuri initially suspected that she was an elephant.

Determining that his find was a mammoth, Yuri had his misgivings. One of the nomadic Nenets people, who regard finding mammoth remains as bad luck.

According to their folklore, mammoths are controlled by underworld gods and in some instances can bring an early death to those who touch them.

Driving his snowmobile some 90 miles across the permafrost to a town called Novyy Port, he boarded a helicopter to take him to Yar-Sale, the capital of the Yamal Peninsula. There, Yuri visited the director of the museum, who decided to act quickly.

Within hours Yuri, the director and some policemen returned to the spot where the mammoth was lying - only to find that it had disappeared.

Yuri made asked around and it soon emerged that the mammoth had been taken by his cousin, who had sold it to a shopkeeper in Novyy Port for two years' supplies of food.

Yuri rushed to the store, where he saw the mammoth carelessly propped up on the floor. Some stray dogs had chewed off most of an ear and the mammoth's tail!

Yuri managed to persuade the shop owner that his purchase was too important to be treated as a giant canine chew, and with the assistance of local police the baby was taken to the Shemanovsky Museum in Salekhard.

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