Can a Canadian dentist use a rotten tooth to bring back the late, great John Lennon via the miracle of cloning? Imagine.
That's the goal of Edmonton dentist Michael Zuk, who claims he has sent the dead Beatle's molar, which he purchased at an auction last fall for $31,000, to Penn State University, where he says "scientists are considering ways to extract the genetic code from the fragile specimen."
Zuk's unbridled enthusiasm for his cloning project is evident in the detailed press release he recently sent out to media outlets.
"I am nervous and excited at the possibility that we will be able to fully sequence John Lennon's DNA, very soon I hope," he says. "With researchers working on ways to clone mammoths, the same technology certainly could make human cloning a reality."
Zuk gained ownership of the tooth last November at an auction of items formerly belonging to record-industry executive Alan McGee.
As the story goes, McGee obtained the tooth from the family of Dorothy (Dot) Jarlett, who was Lennon's housekeeper at his home in Weybridge, England, from 1964 to 1968. Apparently during her time of employ, Lennon gave the pulled tooth to Dot as a present.
"She was very close with John," said Dot's son, Barry, in an interview with CNN, "and one day whilst chatting in the kitchen, John gave my mother the tooth and suggested giving it to my sister as a souvenir, as she was a huge Beatles fan. It has been in the family ever since."
Once extracted from Lennon's mouth, the storied tooth spent most of its time in Canada after Jarlett's daughter married a Canadian and moved here in 1971.
When the family decided to sell it at auction, it was transported back to Britain where it was sold to McGee. The tooth then returned to Canada where Zuk – who also owns a dental crown belonging to Elvis Presley – purchased it last year.
Following his global success with The Beatles and subsequent solo career, Lennon was fatally shot in New York by Mark David Chapman on Dec. 8, 1980. Following cremation, his ashes were spread in Central Park by his widow Yoko Ono. None of which seems to be a deterrent to Zuk in his plan to clone.
"Many Beatles fans remember where they were when they heard John Lennon was shot," says Zuk in his press release. "I hope they also live to hear the day he was given another chance."
Toward that end, Zuk has also started a website, JohnLennonTooth.com, that will allow fans to follow the progress of his project. The Beatles song Love Me Do serves as soundtrack for the site.
The bad news for Zuk is that Canada banned human cloning in 2004, which has necessitated him looking south of the border.
So far, Penn State hasn't released any statement on their involvement in the Lennon tooth project, but if it comes to fruition, can you imagine the rush to clone dead celebrities? Surely there's someone out there with Michael Jackson's nail clippings or a hairbush with Whitney Houston's DNA intact.
It'll be just like starting over.