7 Creepy-but-Amazing Facts About Cloning

Posted Apr 07, by Jose Duarte [+]

Thanks to cloning, the Pyrenean Ibex has gone extinct twice.

The Ibex is an animal similar to a ram or goat, and as the title implies, it went extinct, was revived through cloning and once again went extinct. The reason for the extinction of the natural Pyrenean ibex is a mystery. 

The last one, Celia, was found dead on January 6, 2000. It’s been hypothesized that the subspecies died due to its inability to compete with other species for food, or disease, or hunting. The Pyrenean Ibex remained extinct for nine years. 

In January 2009, things changed-- briefly. The biotechnology company Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. started using nuclear transfer cloning from Ibex tissue in 2000. 

It was initially expected to be easy, and the ibex was expected to be cloned back into a good population and returned to its habitat. Problems arose when a suitable male clone could not be created. Nevertheless, the attempts continued.

The first attempt, in 2003, failed. 285 embryos were constructed, but all died before birth. The only success was in 2009, where a clone was at last born alive. This clone, sadly, died seven minutes after birth due to lung defects. This once again rendered the species extinct. 

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Scientists are saving species from extinction via cloning!

What was science fiction a few years ago is starting to turn into reality. Scientists are hoping to save numerous endangered species through genetic cloning. It's a movement that is going slow, is having low rates of success right now and is not without its critics.

The way this works right now is they create a fully developed embryo of the endangered species, and implant it in a similar species as a surrogate. For example, in 2001, a cow delivered an endangered wild ox from Southeast Asia. African wildcats are being bred inside domestic cats, also. However, for reasons scientists can't explain yet, these clones aren't living very long. The ox lived for 2 days. A Pyrenean ibex only lived for 7 minutes before it died.

While researchers are working on improving their techniques so that we can preserve these species for the future, conservationists argue that money would be better spent in creating and maintaining habitats. Still, science marches on. What do you think? Where is money best spent?

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Bananas can no longer reproduce on their own!

It’s odd to think that if humans were to suddenly disappear from the Earth, so would bananas. Why? The answer is actually quite simple: bananas are the result of man made engineering and tampering with nature. 

New bananas are grown basically by cloning, similar to that of a rosebush, making every single banana an exact genetic copy of each other! The only reason the banana has survived for so long is due to continued breeding done by humans. 

Bananas are a hybrid of two different plants, one being the South Asian Musa acuminate and the other being the Musa balbisiana. Thousands of years ago these two plants had a strange genetic offspring from cross pollination, which was the sterile banana plant. 

Because both of the other plants are virtually unpalatable, ancient peoples began to cultivate or “clone” the sterile banana plant, which would eventually become one of the most popular fruits in the world! 

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Dolly the sheep, the first mammal to be successfully cloned, was named after Dolly Parton!

Dolly was named after Dolly Parton, because she was cloned from a mammary gland! She was cloned using the process of nuclear transfusion. Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell headed the cloning process in Scotland. 

Dolly was born in 1996 and lived for six years until a progressive lung disease took her life. She had a common form of cancer amongst sheep. While many people thought maybe her health problems derived from being a cloned sheep, the scientists in charge of her do not think that's the case.

Wilmut said they couldn't think of a more impressive pair of mammary glands than Dolly Parton, so that is why they named the cloned sheep after her. 

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Japanese researchers are trying to bring a mammoth back to life!

The plan is to clone a mammoth to create a new mammoth embryo that they can implant into a modern elephant's uterus. This prehistoric animal has long since become extinct. Luckily, scientists have access to the mammoth's DNA by obtaining a tissue sample from the preserved remains of a mammoth in Russia. Since modern elephants are the closest living relatives to mammoths, an elephant will be used to give birth to the mammoth. They hope to have successfully create a living mammoth in the next 5-6 years.

The process that will be used to recreate the mammoth has already been tested on mice. Researchers in 2008 have successfully cloned mice using the frozen cells of mice that had been dead for 16 years.
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All navel oranges are clones.

These are the ones we buy at the supermarket and eat daily. They’re popular because they have such a long growing season. In the US, for example, they are readily available from November through April. 

In 1917, a study was conducted which determined that a single mutation of a Selecta orange tree planted at a monastery near Bahia in Brazil in 1810 is what produced the first navel orange. 

However, it’s also believed that the Portuguese navel orange was the tree from which the mutation occurred. Either way, because the mutation left the fruit seedless, the only way to grow more is by grafting cuttings onto other varieties of citrus trees. It was soon introduced in Australia and Florida, now about 180 years ago. 

Navel oranges are actually still produced through cutting and grafting today, which means there is no possibility for selective breeding, and so navel oranges today have the exact same genetic makeup as the original two hundred years ago.  

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There’s a puppy that glows in the dark.

Ruppy (a portmanteau of ruby and puppy) is a beagle with genes from a sea anemone. A team of stem cell researchers in Korea cloned the cells that carry the anemone’s red fluorescent genes. The researchers created a special glowing dog stem cell nucleus, and used it to replace the nucleus of a mother dog’s egg cell. They created over 300 embryos like this, implanted them in 20 different dogs, and though the cloning process has a high failure rate, they were able to produce 5 glowing puppies, including Ruppy. These dogs should be able to grow up and naturally give birth to new glowing puppies.
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