Woolly mammoth cloning a "tantalizing thought," scientist says

(CBS News) The discovery of a woolly mammoth containing liquid blood in Russia has many people buzzing about the possibility of bringing back the massive beasts.

Dr. Derrick Pitts, chief astronomer and planetarium director for the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, called the idea of cloning the animals that lived 10,000 to 15,000 years ago a "tantalizing thought."

Woolly mammoth containing liquid blood discovered in Russia

However, Pitts added an important caveat: "This is a situation where a creature from 10,000 years ago has been frozen in ice and has been exhumed and we've found that there seems to be some liquid inside that looks like blood, but the real question is, is this a viable product, truly. It's 10,000 years, it's been frozen a long time. You know, probabilities are very low on that, but it is a tantalizing thought nonetheless."


That thought, Pitts explained, entails finding cells that could be viable that could be used to derive some DNA for cloning. This method has been tried before without success. "The real difficulty is you have to be able to collect enough of a genome to do this," he said. "It's been done with a hundred genomes before or you can find this, but you need millions of genomes to really get all the material you need to do that."

Watch Pitt's analysis in the video above.