A woolly mammoth frozen in the Siberian permafrost for 10,000 years could be on his way back after Russian academics signed a deal with a controversial South Korean scientist to clone the prehistoric animal, a researcher said on Wednesday.
"We intend to carry out somatic cloning by implanting the genetic material of a mammoth that lived several thousand years ago into the egg of a modern female elephant," a spokesman for the Insitute of Applied Ecology in Siberia's Yakutsk told RIA Novosti.
"The egg will then be placed into the womb of the elephant, who will bear the foetus for 22 months before hopefully giving birth to a live baby mammoth," he said.
The ten-year-old baby mammoth was discovered on the coast of the Laptev sea last year and is thought to have died 10,000 years ago.
Mammoths are an extinct member of the elephant family.
Vasily Vasiliev, deputy head of North-Eastern Federal University of the Sakha Republic, forged the pact with South Korea's Hwang Woo-Suk on Tuesday, Yonhap news agency reported.
Hwang Woo-Suk, the leader of Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, was hailed as a national hero in South Korea and was awarded the title "supreme scientist" until some of his research on human embryos was declared bogus in 2006.
He received a suspended jail term in 2009 for embezzlement and accepting millions of dollars in grants under false pretences.
Hwang created the world's first dog clone, an Afghan hound puppy, in 2005. In October last year, he claimed to have cloned coyotes for the first time.
Russian scientists are already working with Japan's Kinki University on reviving the extinct creature.