Coming Soon: Wooly Mammoths!

Do you remember that movie Jurassic Park where scientists brought dinosaurs back to life from their DNA and the dinosaurs had full reign of the park after an electrical failure eating people indiscriminately?  Scientists are now suggesting they will be for the first time bringing Wooly Mammoths back to life from ancient DNA.  And after that?  Who knows?

If the idea of cloning a creature from DNA that was frozen in ice for a long period of time seems like science fiction, these same scientists were able to acquire the DNA of a mouse frozen in ice already.  And next on their list is a creature that went extinct with the last ice age.  If the wooly mammoths are successfully cloned, then the possibility of bringing the species back from the proverbial grave finally becomes possible.  Of course if the clones come from only one sample, it might be difficult for them to become an actual species on Earth, but there will be a great possibility of the creatures actually coming back in a big way.  The once extinct wooly mammoth may, in other words, once again start competing for territory on the Earth once again.  And if we can bring back wooly mammoths, what else can we bring back?

Right now the theory is that only frozen material that has been frozen since death can be cloned and brought back to life.  The nucleus of the frozen carcass is turned into an embryo and then through in vitro fertilization placed inside a live elephant.  Scientists are hoping the project will result in the return of one of Earth’s wooliest extinct animals.  And after that, it’s possible that the DNA of other creatures could be brought back to life if they are sufficiently preserved.  Could one day mosquitoes carrying long extinct dinosaur DNA and embedded in amber result in a new world Jurassic park?  Could we one day be looking at the real possibility of dinosaurs walking the Earth?  The idea has enchanted millions in the form of two best selling novels and several blockbuster films.

But even if it is possible, does science have the foresight to do so responsibly?  Or is the very prospect of bringing back a creature that had long died off be irresponsible to begin with?  While scientists are confident that the creature discovered will not bring with it any ancient diseases, we can only begin to wonder if it could even exist in our environment with all the world changing events that have transpired since it last walked the Siberian wastelands.

While the idea of a wooly mammoth is easy enough to try out on an unsuspecting public, there is a very distinct possibility that scientists will also attempt to bring back other and more dangerous creatures as well when they get their hands on the necessary samples and/or process to do so.  Are we prepared for a world where velociraptors are brought back and put in zoos?  Can we keep up with the necessary precautions that come along with bringing back Tyrannosaurus Rex?  And is the real danger of this new world truly to us?  Or to them?