Animal Cloning: Definition, Examples & Extinct Animals

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  • 0:00 What Is Cloning?
  • 0:46 Natural Cloning
  • 1:42 Artificial Cloning
  • 2:54 Extinct Animals
  • 4:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dominic Corsini
Did you know there are clones all around us? That's something many people don't realize. So what exactly are clones? This lesson investigates cloning, types of clones, and cloning's connection to extinct animals.

What Is Cloning?

You probably know that bacteria are everywhere, even on your hands. You also probably know that these millions of bacteria came from pre-existing bacteria that created identical replicas of themselves. However, did you realize this was a form of cloning?

Cloning is when genetically identical copies of living organisms are produced. Never thought about bacteria as clones? That's okay, most people haven't. Now, let's expand your knowledge by investigating how clones are made.

Two basic types of cloning are possible. The first is natural cloning, and the second is artificial cloning. For the purposes of this lesson, we'll address each separately.

Natural Cloning

Natural cloning is seen within organisms such as the bacteria mentioned above. Yet, this is only one example. Bacteria are part of a larger group of organisms that reproduce asexually. Asexual reproduction is when organisms reproduce without a partner.

Bacteria reproduce asexually simply by replicating their genetic material, and then dividing in half. Each newly formed bacteria cell is a genetic replica, or clone, of the original. Other single-celled organisms, like yeast and mold, and even multicellular organisms, like starfish or strawberry plants, reproduce asexually. These organisms are natural clones.

Even identical twins are actually clones of each other. These twins are produced when a fertilized egg splits, thus creating two separate embryos that develop independently of one another. Each embryo is a genetic replica of the other, making them natural clones.

Artificial Cloning

Artificial cloning is when scientists create genetic replicas of organisms in ways that would not occur in nature. This is the stuff of science fiction but also science fact. A classic example of this process is when Dolly the sheep was cloned in 1996. Dolly was created using a somatic cell from her mother. A somatic cell is a mature body cell, such as skin, hair, or in this case, udder. Here are the highlights for how it worked:

  • To clone Dolly, scientists first removed the nucleus from a somatic cell of a donor sheep. The removed nucleus contained the exact genetic code from that sheep.
  • Scientists then removed the nucleus from another sheep's egg cell and inserted the first nucleus into it.
  • This egg cell developed within a test tube until it was implanted into the uterus of the surrogate mother sheep.
  • Once implanted, it continued to develop into an exact genetic replica of the donor sheep, also known as a clone. This clone was Dolly.

Dolly isn't the only animal clone out there. In addition to her, bacteria, mold, fungi, mice, cows, chickens, cats and dogs, deer, horses, mules, oxen, rabbits, and monkeys have been cloned.

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