Are we really re-creating mammoths?!

The founders of the Colossal start up announced their intention to recreate the woolly mammoth. Their aim is to fight the loss of biodiversity, especially in the artic region.

According to Colossal website, there are 10 core goals for reviving the mammoth:

  1. To decelerate melting of the arctic permafrost.
  2. To prevent the emission of greenhouse gases trapped within the permafrost layer – up to 600 million tons of net carbon annually.
  3. To revert now-overshrubbed forests back into natural arctic grasslands, which help with carbon emissions.
  4. To restore the Mammoth Steppe.
  5. To foster an ecosystem that can maintain its own defenses against climate change.
  6. To understand the dominant traits among cold-resistant genomes.
  7. To save modern elephants from extinction.
  8. To establish a proven link between genetic sciences and climate change.
  9. To equip nature with a resilience against humanity’s adverse effects on vital ecosystems.
  10. To drive advancements in multiplex CRISPR editing.

The aim of Colossal scientists is not to create a clone of the woolly mammoth. That would be impossible since the DNA extracted from the remains of the frozen animal is too degraded. The idea is to start from the DNA of the Asian elephant, because the Asian elephant and the woolly mammoth share a common ancestor and 99.6% of the DNA.

The procedure would produce an elephant-mammoth hybrid in the next 4-6 years. Using the CRISPR technique, scientists intend to add characteristics that will allow the hybrid to live in the Arctic climate, such as an insulating layer of 10 cm and one-meter-long hair.

The first step is to create the cell containing the DNA with all these features and to implant it in an artificial uterus, which could house the fetus for two years, until it reaches 90 Kg in weight. At this point the first elephant-mammoth hybrid cub should be ready to be born.

George Church at TEDxDeExtinction

What do you think about this project? Will they succeed? Will the project be successful in terms of restoring biodiversity?

References:

Colossal Website: https://colossal.com/mammoth/ 

Wired: https://www.wired.it/scienza/lab/2021/09/15/ricreare-mammut-laboratorio-genetica-crispr/?utm_brand=wired&utm_content=instagram-bio-link&utm_source=instagram&utm_medium=social&utm_social-type=owned&refresh_ce=

Hybridizing with extinct species: George Church at TEDxDeExtinction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTH_fmQo3Ok&t=15s

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