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A Living Wooly Mammoth?

Written By: Jay Seegert, Creation Education Center  |  Posted: Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

            I'm guessing the title of this article got your attention. The actual news title that got my attention was "Scientists to Clone Woolly Mammoth in Five Years."

            When we think of Mammoths, we generally associate them with the Ice Age, living in a world fairly different than our own. This is partially true, but certainly not to the extent that evolutionists would have us believe. According to evolutionary beliefs, there have been over 30 ice ages, some of them dating back as far as billions of years ago. They purport that the mammoths became extinct during the last ice age, which they say ended about 10,000 years ago. We'll have to wait until a future article to discuss more detail about the Ice Age, but this at least gives you the context within which evolutionists are working.

            Even though evolutionists believe that Woolly Mammoths generally became extinct about 10,000 years ago, they also think that there was a dwarfed race still living on Wrangel Island (Arctic Ocean by Russia) until about 1700 BC.

            Recently, scientists have been working on extracting DNA from some frozen Mammoth carcasses. DNA is the structure that contains all the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms. It is also very fragile and doesn't last very long on its own. While incorporated within the cell nucleus, there are mechanisms that assist in maintaining its structure including repairing mistakes that occur during replication. Once a creature dies, its DNA begins to decay fairly rapidly, unless preserved in some manner, such as being imbedded in amber or kept frozen within sedimentary layers of the earth. Even in these cases, decay will still occur. Generally speaking, the DNA in something thought to be dead for 10,000 years should be significantly decayed. The DNA in these mammoths is believed to be complete enough to allow for the possibility of cloning.

            The plan involves taking the preserved nuclei of mammoth cells (which contains the strands of DNA) and inserting them into an egg of an African elephant and subsequently placing the modified/fertilized egg into its uterus. If all works as planned, the elephant would then give birth to a mammoth! (Or would it be an "ele-moth" or a "mamm-ephant" or maybe something worse… maybe a greatly mutated whatever? And maybe not even something living at all! It certainly raises some very difficult ethical questions, which are often not the most straight-forward to address.

            How is this attempt even possible? Doesn't it seem to lend credibility to the idea of evolution, specifically that all creatures have descended from a common ancestor? In reality, there's nothing in this exercise that mimics or give support to the idea of "molecules-to-man" evolution, which involves one kind of animal giving rise to something completely different, increasing the amount of genetic information all along the way. That's not at all what we see in this case. We simply see the potential possibility of two very closely related animals being able to produce offspring. It's not much different than when we breed a wolf and a dog (which even though being considered different species, are really the same "kind" of animal). In fact, today we can breed wolves, dogs, dingoes and coyotes, because they each are really just a variety of the same kind of animal.

            Biblically speaking, mammoths, mastodons and elephants are really all the same "kind" of animal. Genesis 1 tells us many times that God created animals to reproduce "after their find" (e.g. Genesis 1:24). Today, of all these creatures, only the elephant remains, in three species: the African bush elephant, the African forest elephant and the Indian elephant.

            This leads to another interesting question… could we clone a dinosaur? Isn't that what they did in the Jurassic Park movies? Now I've really got your attention! Long story short… no. Here are a two reasons why. (1) We don't actually have any dinosaur DNA. (2) We would still need to get an egg from a living dinosaur in order to insert the DNA into it. Some might say we could use some other reptile, but even most evolutionists don't think there would be a close enough match to be successful. Some have suggested trying it with a bird, since they believe that dinosaurs evolved into birds! An interesting note along the lines of the first point is that the informational deterioration would be most likely insurmountable. Regarding trying to read the information on the DNA, molecular geneticist Russell Higuchi, compared the task to "finding an encyclopedia ripped into shreds and written in a language you barely comprehend, and having to reassemble it in the dark, without using your hands." That's a pretty powerful analogy of just how challenging it would be.

            So wrapping it all up, we'll just have to wait and see what actually happens with our Woolly Mammoth efforts. To me, it continues to underscore the immense beauty and design God has created all around us, while also confirming the accuracy and authority of His word!

            Jay Seegert is a seminar speaker for the Creation Education Center from Wisconsin. The website is www.CECwisc.com

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