The Point

The Point: A Mammoth-Sized Irony

Back in 2010, scientists discovered an amazingly well-preserved woolly mammoth in the Siberian permafrost, which raised hope—among those who get excited about such things—of cloning an extinct prehistoric species. Well, Japanese and Russian scientists have now “awakened” some of the mammoth’s cells. The team, according to Newsweek, “inserted muscle cell nuclei from a well-preserved mammoth carcass into mouse ova, where they watched ‘signs of biological activity’ take place.” While scientists consider this achievement a milestone, it turns out that given today’s technology and the condition of the mammoth’s nuclei, there won’t be any hairy pachyderms clomping around any time soon. But as my colleague Warren Smith emailed me after reading about this: “It’s one of the ironies of the current age. We will go to extraordinary lengths to nurture life when we see even remote evidence of it in woolly mammoth nuclei. But we extinguish a baby with a heartbeat and all manner of other ‘signs of biological activities.’” Actually, irony isn’t quite the word for it.


John Stonestreet


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