On July 5, 1996, Dolly the sheep became the world’s first ovine (sheepy) superstar.
But scientists were also concerned that Dolly could be a cautionary tale: Genetic testing revealed that her DNA showed signs of aging at just one year old, and at five, she was diagnosed with arthritis. It wasn’t clear whether Dolly’s problems were because she was a clone.
Dolly eventually died after contracting a virus in 2003 at six years old — half the typical life expectancy of a sheep of her kind.
“We’re presented with a blank slate in a way,” researcher David Gardner said during a press conference in the UK on Monday. “We wanted to assess these animals’ physiology to see if they’re normal.”
As it turns out, Dolly may have just gotten a bad shake. Researchers at the University of Nottingham announced Tuesday that four clones derived from Dolly’s cell line are alive and healthy at nine years old.