Dolly the Sheep

1996 - 2003

Dolly the Sheep
©2023 Gazetteer for Scotland

Dolly the Sheep

The first mammal ever to be cloned from an adult cell. Dolly was bred at the Roslin Institute (Midlothian), from a cell taken from the udder of a 6-year old Finn Dorset ewe, using a technique known as nuclear transfer. English-born scientist Professor Ian Wilmut led the research team.

Despite being born an apparently normal lamb, Dolly was soon suspected of being old beyond her years, with her genetic material seeming to reflect the age of the original donor cell. However, she bred normally, giving rise to a total of four lambs in 1998 and 1999.

Dolly became an icon for the promise (and threat) of biotechnology. She features in an opera by American modernist composer Steve Reich and the Italian washing machine manufacturer Zanussi used her image in an advertisement, alongside the slogan 'the misappliance of science'.

Dolly was put to sleep on the 14th February, 2003, after developing lung disease. She was also known to be suffering from arthritis. The development of these ailments at her relatively young age gave rise to concerns as to the wisdom of cloning.

Her preserved body has been placed on permanent display in The Royal Museum in Edinburgh.

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