Imagine a scene where you are out in the park, maybe walking your dog. You’re ambling along minding your own business when suddenly, a strange shape appears on the horizon. You pause, watching it get closer and closer… slowly a realisation dawns upon you and for a moment you doubt your eyes, your sanity, but no… it’s real. Lumbering towards you is the latest must have fashionable pet, a miniature mammoth.
Amazed and confused you head home and quickly log into your mainframe and take yourself off to the best search engine (blasting a few spambots with your phaser). You ask the helpbot about miniature mammoths and it directs you to an advert – they’re called minimoths and come several sizes. You can have a small dog (think West Highland terrier size), guinea-pig size or mouse size.
It might seem like an absurd idea, but it’s something I’ve always wanted (guinea-pig size please). Whilst this is really just a pipe dream, and somewhat far fetched my dream of a minimoth is creeping (very) slowly towards reality.
Last year (July 2007) it was reported that the well preserved body of a mammoth calf was discovered in the permafrost in North West Sibera. It’s believed that this six month old female calf is around 10,000yrs old which puts it on the planet around the time of the last Ice Age. The eyes and trunk are largely intact and the specimen still has some fur, it stands at 4ft 3″ (six inches shorter than me, for those keeping score) and weighs about 50kg.
Scientists said that whilst they aren’t able to get a viable DNA specimen from this body but they believe that they should be able to find the perfect specimen soon. They say that they could inject mammoth sperm (if found) into the egg of a close living relative species (in this case it will be the Asian elephant) and ta-da! twenty-two months later you’d have a baby mammoth cross. Another option, is they strip an elephant egg cell of its DNA and fuse it with the nucleus of a mammoth cell then we could effectively clone a mammoth.
A problem they faced was re-activating the cells of frozen long dead animals, but recently there was a break through where scientists were able to reactive the cells of a dead mouse that was frozen sixteen years ago! By reports the Japanese scientists performing these experiments have set their sights on the mammoth problem.
If they do manage to succeed bringing back mammoths, it won’t be long before they’ll be the latest designer must have pet and then next we’ll have a real Jurassic Park… which sounds awesome to me.
Minor Mammoth News Update: It seems that mammoths are once again hitting the headlines with scientists announcing they’ve mapped the genetic code and for as little as $10 million (£6,699,425) we could have mammoths once again roaming the Earth.