Extinct bison emerges from melting permafrost up to 9,000 years later. Can it be cloned?

An ancient bison was frozen inside Siberian permafrost for up to 9,000 years until the melting ice coughed out its mummified body in summer 2022.

Now scientists in Russia hope to clone the ancient beast from its tissue samples.

After scientists retrieved the mummified bison, they donated it to the Mammoth Museum of the M.K. Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University for research, according to a March 13 news release.

Though the carcass is incomplete, its forelimbs, head and part of its chest were well-preserved, meaning scientists were able to perform a necropsy to remove the brain and take samples of its skin, wool, muscles and soft tissues, the release said.

That led researchers to believe they may be able to clone the bison from the preserved cells, officials said.

Scientists believe the bison was between 1.5 to 2 years old when it died, estimating/ it lived between 8,000 and 9,000 years ago based on the geological ages of a similar species of bison discovered in the area in 2009 and 2010, scientists said in the release.

The bison were found in the Verkhoyansk region of Khaastaakh in northeastern Russia, and researchers want to return there this summer to search for more fossilized remains.

You might think cloning a long-extinct ancient being sounds like the plot of another Jurassic Park movie. And some skeptics think it could be a long-shot, LiveScience reported.

“In my view, it is not going to be possible to clone extinct animals from tissues like this,” Love Dalen, a paleogeneticist at Stockholm University in Sweden, told the outlet.

Even though the tissues are “exceptionally well-preserved, the DNA within them is likely too degraded to be cloned,” Dalen told the outlet. He suggested sequencing the bison’s genome and combining it with DNA from the extinct species and from living bison.

It wouldn’t be the first time scientists have tried to reverse a species’ extinction.

Scientists at the TIGRR Lab and Texas-based “de-extinction” company Colossal are trying to bring the Tasmanian tiger back to life, McClatchy News previously reported.

Scientists have also successfully cloned arctic wolves in China, McClatchy News previously reported.

And on March 28, Australian food company Vow announced it produced lab-grown woolly mammoth meatballs as it works toward a “more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional meat production,” McClatchy News previously reported.

But for now, the woolly mammoth meatballs are not considered safe for us modern humans to eat.

Google Translate was used to translate the news release from the Mammoth Museum of the M.K. Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University.

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