Millions of dollars have been raised to bring back the woolly mammoth from extinction.
The large animal went extinct 10,000 years ago, but now there’s hope they will be making a return.
Scientists announced today, September 13, how much money had been raised by bioscience and genetics company Colossal to fund the mammoth-revival efforts.
Apparently, talks of bringing woolly mammoths back from the dead have been going on for the best part of a decade, with scientists hoping to make an elephant-mammoth hybrid using lab-made embryos that carry mammoth DNA.
According to The Guardian, scientists would first need to take skin cells from Asian elephants to reprogram them into more versatile stem cells that carry mammoth DNA.
Mammoth genomes are extracted from animals recovered from the permafrost and compared with those from the related Asian elephants. This then helps scientists identify the particular genes that are responsible for mammoth hair, insulating fat layers and other cold climate adaptions.
The embryos would then be carried by a surrogate mother in the hopes of her carrying the baby full term.
The project wasn’t only created in a bid to bring woolly mammoths back from extinction, but also to help Asian elephants adapt to colder climates. The mammoth-elephant hybrid would be equipped for Arctic weather, and could help with Asian elephants conservation efforts as the large mammals are currently classed as endangered.
George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Colossal, which raised $15 million towards the project, said:
Our goal is to make a cold-resistant elephant, but it is going to look and behave like a mammoth. Not because we are trying to trick anybody, but because we want something that is functionally equivalent to the mammoth, that will enjoy its time at -40C, and do all the things that elephants and mammoths do, in particular knocking down trees.
Introducing the hybrid mammoth-elephant could also help restore the Arctic; for example, the knocking down of trees could help restore former Arctic grasslands, The Guardian reports.
If all goes to plan, researchers hope to have their first set of calves in six years.
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