Cloning Candidates

Which animals represent the best bets for cloning and which ones are't such hot prospects? A British journalist did some digging and came up with this report card on the candidates:

Species Status Cloning potential
Panda

Endangered

Fewer than a thousand remain in their shrinking natural habitat in south west China, with one hundred in zoos. They have sex rarely, dislike breeding in captivity, and are picky eaters.

High

Chinese scientists have produced cloned panda embryos by inserting a panda cell nucleus into a rabbit egg. US scientists hope to use black bear eggs and surrogate mothers.

Tasmanian tiger

Extinct

The last known representative of this striped, wolf-like marsupial species died in a zoo in Hobart, Tasmania (Australia) in 1936.

Poor

Were it not for the huge effort to bring it back. The New South Wales government has given the Australian Museum in Sydney $1M to do it. But the DNA available for cloning is 134 years old and in bad condition.

Barbary lion

Unknown

Thought to be the species which devoured Christians in the Roman circus, the last Barbary lion in its natural habitat, north Africa, was killed in Morocco in 1922, but it is thought some may live on in Middle Eastern zoos.

Fair

But only if a survivor can be found, or genes can be recovered from hybrids.

Mammoth

Extinct 4,000 years

The existence of this furry elephant is known only from bones, tusks, frozen remains in Siberia, and cave drawings.

Poor

Scientists hope to get a crack at injecting an elephant egg with DNA from a frozen mammoth cell, but the DNA is likely to be damaged by its time in the permafrost.

Source:http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/genes/article/0,2763,379401,00.html


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