Washington – Eight thousand years after it roamed the ice, the woolly mammoth may walk again.
Scientists at Harvard University claim to have reproduced 14 of the animal’s genes in the DNA of an elephant – the first step in a process they hope will eventually lead the birth of a live mammoth.
The procedure is the latest development in an international race between geneticists in the US, South Korea and Japan to bring the woolly mammoth back to life.
Samples of hair frozen in ice have been used to piece together the mammoth’s genetic code. Now Asian elephants – which are genetically very similar – are key to the hopes of each programme. If the mammoth’s genome was recreated in living DNA, it could theoretically be used to create an embryo to be carried by a surrogate elephant.
Professor George Church, a geneticist at Harvard University, said: ‘We have functioning elephant cells with mammoth DNA in them right now.’