A project has been proposed to clone the woolly mammoth, see: http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/35829/title/Mammoth-Blood-Gives-Hope-for-Cloning-/. Mammoths are an extinct species of elephant that lived in colder climates than their modern cousins and evolved a thick coat of fur to cope with the cold, hence their name. They were very common in many parts of Europe, Asia and North America during the last ice age. They coexisted with Neanderthal and modern humans who hunted them and used their bones for tools and their ivory for decoration and jewellery. When the ice age ended about 12,000 years ago they slowly became extinct. The last ones died more recently than you might think, only 1600 BC on Wrangel Island off the northern coast of Siberia. Because many of them died in very cold climates their bodies have been preserved in ice and frozen soil. In June it was announced that scientists had discovered a particularly intact specimen in the polar regions of Russia; its liquid blood was found still inside the body and the scientists have managed to extract its DNA. This is of course very interesting for research, but some scientists want to apply that research into resurrecting the animal by cloning it.
Cloning is a technique of generating a living organism by copying its genetic pattern. This can sometimes happen naturally as in asexual reproduction or the case of identical twins, but it can now be done artificially by inserting the nucleus of a cell into an ovum and then allowing it to grow into an embryo and baby in the womb of a similar animal. This baby would not be the offspring of the mothering animal, but would be the identical twin of the organism the original cell nucleus came from. This has now been done successfully with many species of modern animals, from frogs, to rats to water buffalo. The first mammal to be cloned was Dolly the sheep in 1996. Many experts claim cloning has a lot of benefits, like saving endangered species from extinction. But this is the first time it’s ever been suggested that an extinct animal be cloned, mostly because the DNA of extinct species is almost non-existent by definition, until now. What the project scientists want to do is place the nucleus of one of the cells from the mammoth body into the ovum of a modern elephant and then let the baby be born to that elephant mother. If this is done enough times there might be enough mammoths for a breeding population; and the Russians already have plans to set them free in one of their national parks.