Russian and Japanese scientists are hoping to clone mammoths from what they think are the legs of the extinct animal discovered in Russia's northern Yakutsk region.
Expo 2005 organisers want to display a mammoth
Specimens of the animal discovered last year have arrived at Kinki University's Gifu Science and Technology Centre in western Japan.
"The bone marrow, skin and muscle specimens, frozen in nitrogen
liquid... look fine. We first have to confirm whether these are really of a mammoth," said the centre's president, Akira Iritani.
The DNA may be damaged and not good enough for cloning, as the remains are believed to be 200,000-300,000 years old, he said.
The scientists are planning to use elephant eggs in the cloning process.
Vektor Research Centre for
Virology and Biotechnology of Russia has been working on the project alongside the Japanese scientists.
Last year, the Vladivostok News in Russia reported that scientists believed they could resurrect extinct animals - such as the mammoth and the woolly rhinoceros - to create a prehistoric safari park in northern Siberia.
The region's limited infrastructure was seen as one of the obstacles to establishing such a sanctuary.
Mammoths appear to be all the rage at the moment. The central Japanese city hosting the
Expo 2005 world exposition plans to excavate an entire frozen
mammoth and display it at the fair, organisers have said.
Seto and the other cities in Aichi prefecture, 250 kilometres
(155 miles) west of Tokyo, have set up the Mammoth Excavation and
Exhibition Organisation Committee to send a mission to explore the
"I believe chances of success will be 80-90%, given technological advances and information accumulated over the years," said Shinji Furukawa, chairman of the new committee.
Melting permafrost is revealing mammoths
If realised, the display would greatly impress visitors, he
An expedition will leave for Khatanga and Yakutsk in Siberia at the end of the summer. A second expedition has been scheduled for 2004, while organisers hope to transport the frozen animal to Japan by May 2005.
Mr Furukawa said the first expedition would cost about 100m
Several full-body mammoths have been found in the past, according to Takeshi Matsuda, a committee member.
"But none of them has been excavated and preserved in a perfect
condition... as frozen bodies start to rot the moment they come out
of ice," he said.
"It is not a matter of whether there are full bodies but a
question of excavation timing and methods," he added.