We have seen it in many cartoons and documentaries: the ancestor of the elephant, with its huge curved tusks and thick fur, lived 200,000 to around 5,000 years ago in Asia, Europe, and Europe. North America. Although thousands of years have passed since their complete extinction – around 10,000 years – scientists are leading a very ambitious project: to bring this fascinating species back to the wild .
Recreating mammoths: Seems unlikely and impossible, but researchers have been discussing this prospect for years. However, what was once a distant and ambitious project now appears to be a reality: new funding of $ 15 million has arrived. The project is the work of entrepreneur Ben Lamm who, along with George Church, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, founded the bioscience and genetics company Colossal.
image credit: Charles R Knight Portrait/Wikipedia
Cloning mammoths from DNA stored in the laboratory is impossible because this DNA – taken from the remains found – is not in good condition. The goal is to use genetic engineering to create an elephant-mammoth hybrid virtually identical to the extinct species. To do this, the scientists plan to take skin cells from endangered Asian elephants and combine them with cells containing mammoth DNA. This will create embryos that will then develop thanks to a surrogate mother or an artificial uterus. If all goes well and according to plan, elephants with mammoth genetic characteristics should be born within four to six years.
image credit: Yathin S Krishnappa Wikipedia
They should be particularly cold-hardy, able to survive temperatures as low as -40 °, and thus cope with the impacts of climate change. Lamm said: “Our goal is not only to bring the mammoth back to life but to bring back successfully reintroduced hybrid herds to the Arctic region.”
It is therefore an incredibly ambitious project that aims to achieve three major objectives: revive mammoths, fight against the extinction of Asian elephants and fight climate change in some particularly threatened regions of the world.
source used: The Guardian