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The Hamilton Spectator
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Will woolly mammoths live again?
Scientists have sequenced part of the genome of a woolly mammoth that died 28,000 years ago, a discovery that raises the possibility of bringing the extinct ice age mammals back from the dead.

Hendrik Poinar, a molecular evolutionary geneticist at McMaster University in Hamilton, says ancient DNA obtained from the jawbone of a long-dead Siberian woolly mammoth could be used create a modern version of the animal.

He and his U.S. colleagues won't be able to clone the female that was found frozen in the permafrost because the DNA they obtained was fractured into so many tiny fragments. But they could create a hybrid of the woolly mammoth and its closest living relative, the Indian elephant. Once researchers have made male and female hybrids, they could breed the animals to obtain as pure a woolly mammoth as possible.

"In theory, you could do it," Dr. Poinar says.

It could prove difficult in practice, however. Still, this is the most DNA from an ancient animal that has ever been found and sequenced, he says.

So far, he and his U.S. colleagues have mapped 1 per cent of the woolly mammoth genome, and they say they should be able to finish the rest in a year or two.Source.

December 21, 2005