Ian Wilmut who cloned Dolly the sheep in 1996 has put his weight behind the proposition that mammoths should be cloned. There is mammoth DNA available in good condition to make the attempt and a number of scientists interested in proceeding with it. There are two methods of cloning that may be used from the DNA at hand but neither can guaranty a positive result. Some, however, object to cloning under any circumstances on ethical grounds. Wilmut says the cloning should be done if the resulting animal can be well cared for. Per the article:
"I think it should be done as long as we can provide great care for the animal,” Wilmut told The Guardian. “If there are reasonable prospects of them being healthy, we should do it. We can learn a lot about them," he said.
Why should we provide "great" care for the animal. Why anymore than normal reasonable care provided any other animal. Perhaps he is just trying to placate the negative people that say it would be "tampering with mother natures plans". Sounds very religious. Mother nature has no plans.
I certainly agree that mother nature has no plan. The closest thing to a plan it has is to ruthlessly enforce natural selection. I can see interfering with this on occasion. I think the animal should be given extra care because there would be no others of its species for it to interact with. As such, extra care would probably be necessary in order to ensure that it keeps its morale up.
OK. Didn't think of that.
It would probably do fine with a herd of elephants. If it stayed with the female (who should be wild) who gestated it, it would most likely be accepted by the rest of the herd. This means that scientists who wanted to study it would have to deal with it living in the wild. Worst possible thing would be for it to be confined to a zoo or study compound, because elephants are very social beings, and also very intelligent, and isolation would be very damaging to its mental health.
I would like to see it in my lifetime
I am with you, Meri. I hope I live long enough to see it.
There are still some major obstacles to cloning a mammoth. First off, the most logical animal to gestate the clone would be an elephant, but no one has yet determined how to tell when an elephant is ovulating. Second, the best candidate for an ovum to insert the mammoth DNA into is the elephant ovum, and since no one knows when or how to retrieve such ovum, there is no likelihood of being able to bring a mammoth clone to birth any time soon.
So seems like a romantically attractive idea, but not ready for prime time, and thus this conversation can be no more than speculative.
No one may be knowing how to retrieve elephant ovum but it may not be something that is not knowable. I believe that those who decided to clone the mammoth must have some plan to find the necessary ovum.
Cloning extinct species would certainly advance our knowledge about them. Also, with the high current rates of extinction, cloning may be the only way to save some species. Probably best to get on with it. Besides, mammoths are very unlikely to go around eating people a la Jurassic Park.