March 9, 2016 1:04 pm
Updated: March 9, 2016 1:20 pm

South Korean scientist wants to clone extinct Siberian lion cubs

A screenshot of one of the 12,000-year-old lion cubs found preserved in Siberia.

Screenshot/YouTube/The Siberian Times

Remember those 12,000-year-old lion cubs that were found in Siberia last year?

According to The Siberian Times, a South Korean scientist recently visited Russia to collect samples from the frozen big cats in an effort to clone them.

Albert Protopopov, head of the mammoth fauna studies department of the Yakutian Academy of Sciences told the Siberian Times that samples were taken from the cubs in order to see if it might be possible to clone the animals. However, there was some dispute between the Russian scientists and the South Korean team, which included renowned stem cell researcher Hwang Woo-suk.

WATCH: 12,000-year-old lion cubs

In 2005, Woo-suk revealed the first cloned dog, Snuppy. He and his team also cloned human embryos, which later died. However, he was forced to step down from his role as director for the World Stem Cell Hub after he was accused of violating ethics when it was revealed that the embryos were provided by some of his researchers.

Woo-suk is also rumoured to be attempting to bring the woolly mammoth back from extinction.

South Korean stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk, right, and Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-su hold a coyote, which was claimed to be cloned, in 2011.

AP Photo/Yonhap, Shin Young-keun

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The dispute over the cubs arose over the size of the sample the South Korean team wanted to take from the lions.

Woo-suk wanted a large piece such as a skull or part of a leg, but experts wanted to preserve the cubs with the hope that advances in technology would some day provide more information with what was available — which they claim is not a lot.

Speaking to the Times, Protopopov said: “We intend to keep it for the future. The methods of research are constantly being improved, about once a decade there is a mini-revolution in this area. So we will do everything possible to keep this carcass frozen for as long as possible.”

The South Korean team did manage to collect a sample, though one not as large as they had hoped.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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