Scientist working with cloning technology have nearly revived an extinct frog species. By implanting a "dead" cell nucleus into a fresh egg from another frog species, the scientists were able to create living embryos. Although the embryos lived only a few days, the research is groundbreaking and has brought the idea of bringing back extinct species like the woolly mammoth one step closer to being an actual possibility.
The scientists with the Lazarus Project haven't yet published their results, but state that future barriers to bringing the frog species back to life are "technological, not biological."
The Lazarus Project is named after the famous biblical character Lazarus, who according to the Gospel of St. John, Jesus brought back from the dead after he had laid in his tomb for four days.
The final gastric-brooding frog, the Rheobatrachus silus, which swallowed its eggs, brooded young in its stomach, and gave birth through its mouth - died out in 1983. The scientists say that the woolly mammoth could be once again wandering Siberia in less than 20 years.
Research teams from around the world are in a race to sequence the mammoth genome from an analysis of DNA from remains that were found frozen in the ice of northern Russia. The last woolly mammoths died out 4,000 years ago on Wrangel Island, which is located between the East Siberian and Chukchi seas.
As for the frogs, the researchers were able to recover cell nuclei from R. silus tissues that were collected during the 1970s and kept for 40 years in a conventional deep freeze. Over the course of five years, the scientists used a laboratory technique known as somatic cell nuclear transfer in which they took fresh eggs from the distantly related Great Barred Frog, deactivated their nuclei, and then replaced them with genes from the extinct frog.