Within five years woolly mammoths may roam the Earth once again, reports Discovery News' Jennifer Viegas. Researchers in Russia recently found a mammoth thigh bone with well-preserved bone marrow and they are now analyzing it to see if there's enough DNA to clone the big, shaggy beast. The director of the Sakha Republic's mammoth museum in Siberia, Semyon Grigoriev, and his team are working with researchers from Japan's Kinki University to recreate the mammoth, Viegas says. "The key to cloning the woolly mammoth is to replace the nuclei of egg cells from an elephant with those extracted from the mammoth's bone marrow cells," she adds. "Doing this, according to the researchers, can result in embryos with mammoth DNA."
But not everyone is convinced the cloning could work. Penn State computer scientist and genomicist Webb Miller — who helped analyze the mammoth's genetic code — expressed his skepticism to MSNBC, saying, "C'mon, it'll never happen. Not in my lifetime." Mammoth DNA is a "mess," Miller says. It's fractured into short pieces and suffers from other postmortem DNA damage. Further, even if the DNA is intact, cloning animals isn't easy. The process will likely end up creating a kind of "hairy elephant with mammoth-like characteristics," MSNBC says.