Scientists examine baby WOOLLY MAMMOTH
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Colossal, a biotech company backed by a £10.8million ($15million) funding seed intends to restore the woolly mammoth to the Arctic tundra. The company’s geneticists want to restore a species that has been dead for some 4,000 years but they believe their efforts could help preserve modern-day species on the verge of extinction. Towards this goal, the “de-extinction” company has partnered with scientists at Harvard University in the US.
Ben Lamm, co-founder and chief executive, said: “Never before has humanity been able to harness the power of this technology to rebuild ecosystems, heal our Earth and preserve its future through the repopulation of extinct animals.
“In addition to bringing back ancient extinct species like the woolly mammoth, we will be able to leverage our technologies to help preserve critically endangered species that are on the verge of extinction and restore animals where humankind had a hand in their demise.”
The project is being led by Dr George Church, a world-renowned geneticist and pioneer in genome sequencing.
For the last 800 years, woolly mammoths roamed the grasslands of North America, Russia, Europe and the Arctic.
Scientists estimated the elephant-like species went extinct about 4,000 years ago.
Colossal aims to bring the mammoth back by creating a genetic hybrid from mammoth DNA and the genome of Asian elephants.
The company’s scientists will collect their mammoth DNA from exceptionally well preserved mammoth specimens uncovered in the Siberian permafrost.
Earlier this year, an international team of researchers recovered the teeth of a mammoth dating back more than one million years.
Woolly mammoths and Asian elephants share about 99.6 percent of their DNA, making them a perfect match to attempt hybrid sequencing.
Baby woolly mammoth goes on display at Natural History Museum
The company will use technologies like CRISPR to achieve their goal.
Dr Church said: “Technologies discovered in pursuit of this grand vision – a living, walking proxy of a woolly mammoth – could create very significant opportunities in conservation.”
Similar technology was used to resurrect the dinosaurs in the film Jurassic Park.
Scientists at the doomed theme park combined prehistoric dino DNA with the DNA of modern-day frogs and other animal species to create terrifying dino hybrids.
And this is not the first time scientists have announced their intent to bring the mammoth back from the dead.
Only three years ago a Russian company told the world the extinct species could be resurrected within a decade.
A team of scientists from Russia, Japan and South Korea were given the green light by local authorities in Russia’s Siberian Yakutia territory to attempt mammoth cloning.
Russian politician Aisen Nikolaev said at the time: “In my opinion, cloning a mammoth will happen in the next decade.”
There are, however, many challenges that lay ahead.
According to Dr Victoria Herridge at the Natural History Museum in London, there are key ethical questions the scientists will need to raise before they bring the mammoth back.
Questions such as: is this a hybrid, a mammoth, or a new species entirely? How many will the scientists create? Is it a social animal, and if so, how do we take care of it?
Colossal aims to restore the mammoth to the Arctic tundra in a bid to revitalised the Arctic grasslands.
The polar Arctic pole once features vast grasslands but the landscape drastically changed to forests after the mammoth went extinct.
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