Cloning the Woolly Mammoth

2015, Science  -  22 min Leave a Comment
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Scientific research and practices are advancing at a rapid pace. Many of the breakthroughs have exceeded the expectations of our most vivid imaginations, and have forced society to grapple with challenges related to ethics and morality. The most glaring example of this dilemma lies in the field of cloning.

The new documentary Cloning the Woolly Mammoth tackles this debate by taking us on a journey around the globe in regions where researchers are making great strides in replicating various species in their laboratories.

The world was abuzz when the news broke that species such as sheep and dogs were successfully cloned. Now, scientists are working diligently to make their next cloning experiment a reality, and it's the kind of quest that most of us have only witnessed through the imaginings of Hollywood movie makers. Can advances in cloning allow us to resurrect a long extinct and prehistoric species like the woolly mammoth?

This quest begins in South Korea, where cloning has become a widely accepted reality, and a profitable business to boot. Wealthy consumers can even have their beloved pets cloned for $100,000 per specimen. But the next evolution in cloning technologies makes these accomplishments seem tame and antiquated in comparison. Utilizing mammoth tissue samples imported from Siberia, scientists inject these long dormant cells into the Asian elephant; thereby, attempting to recreate a species which has been extinct for over 4,000 years.

Why the mammoth? Scientists state that it's simply because it's within the realm of possibility. "Someone on this Earth will have to do it and I think it's us," says interview subject Dr. Jeong Yeon Woo, the director of the Sooam Mammoth Rebirth Project. "Don't you think it will be fun to find out what comes out?"

The ethical implications of the experiment don't end there. Siberian tusk hunters are one of the major groups who profit from the woolly mammoth project, and their efforts play a primary role in supplying the samples which make the experiment possible.

Cloning the Woolly Mammoth explores the many controversial variables involved in this brave new world of scientific research; a world which may be ill-prepared if these experiments should reap success.