14 Sep. 2021 22:50
Mammoths became extinct around 4,000 years ago. Now an ambitious scientific project aims to bring the woolly giants back. Among other things, this is intended to help restore nature to the arctic tundra and save Asian elephants.
The idea of reviving woolly mammoths has been discussed for over ten years. But now the scientists’ dream has a real chance of being realized. Life science company Colossal has said it has received $ 15 million to fund the ambitious project.
However, the aim is not actually to revive the ancient giants, but to create an elephant-mammoth hybrid. It starts with the removal of skin cells from Asian elephants, which are threatened with extinction. These cells are then reprogrammed into more versatile stem cells that carry mammoth DNA. They also want to identify the special genes that are responsible for mammoth wool, insulating layers of fat and other adaptations to the cold climate. For this purpose, the genomes of mammoths recovered from the permafrost will be compared with those of related Asian elephants. George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and Colossal co-founder, told the UK news magazine The Guardian:
“Our goal is to create a cold-resistant elephant that will look like a mammoth and act like one. Not because we’re trying to outsmart everyone, but because we want something that is functionally equivalent to the mammoth, that is at one temperature having fun at temperatures of minus 40 degrees Celsius and doing all the things elephants and mammoths do, especially cutting down trees. “
The project aims to save Asian elephants as well as to preserve the arctic tundra. By cutting down trees, the animals could help restore the former arctic grasslands. According to scientists, this would even slow down the effects of climate change. Colossal boss Ben Lamm literally:
“Never before has mankind been able to harness the power of this technology to rebuild ecosystems, heal our earth and secure its future by reviving extinct animals.”
According to Lamm, the scientists’ plan is not simply to bring back mammoths, but to create herds capable of crossing breeds that will colonize the Arctic. For the time being, however, it is unclear whether Asian elephants want to mate with the hybrids. In this regard, Church joked:
“We’ll probably have to shave her a little.”
more on the subject – No trace of male partners: tiny primordial animal of a purely female kind brought back to life