Is it really possible to clone extinct species?
I read that scientists cloned a sheep a few years ago. Can they do the same thing with extinct species like dinosaurs and mammoths?
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It is not possible to clone what does not exist. The bones that may remain as evidence may have decayed beyond recovery thereby making it impossible to even collect DNA sample to be used to clone.
Dolly the Sheep was cloned in 1996 from a cell taken from a healthy sheep's mammary gland. In normal sexual reproduction, the genes of two individuals (the mother and father) are combined in the offspring. In cloning, the offspring's genes are an exact copy of a single parent's.
In the process that created Dolly, the cell nucleus from the adult cell was transplanted into an unfertilized egg that had had its nucleus removed. Scientists then stimulated the egg to start dividing, as it would have naturally if it had been fertilized, and eventually the fetus was implanted into the womb of an adult female sheep.
Scientists have been successful at cloning sheeps, cats, and a few other animals from living DNA. With DNA from extinct animals, the situation is a bit different. First, DNA degrades quickly after death--it's almost impossible to find complete DNA in the tissues or bones of a dead animal, especially if it's been dead for thousands or millions of years. In addition, if scientists were able to find or recreate extinct genes, there would be no living mother of the same species to gestate the fetus.
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