Can extinct species be resurrected? It's the elephant in the genetics room. However, one bioscience company believes it can, saying on Monday that it will utilize new technology to bring the woolly mammoth back to the Arctic tundra.
Colossal Resurrecting the Colossal Animal.
Colossal, a new firm founded by a Harvard geneticist, claims that their species "de-extinction" project can serve as the foundation for a viable model for rebuilding damaged or destroyed ecosystems, therefore slowing or even halting the impacts of climate change.
"In addition to resurrecting ancient extinct species such as the woolly mammoth, we will be able to use our technology to help preserve critically endangered species on the edge of extinction and restore creatures whose extinction was caused by human activity."
Wooly Mammoths Roaming in the Prehistoric Arctic
Woolly mammoths inhabited most of the Arctic, coexisting alongside early humans who hunted the cold-resistant herbivores for food and fashioned tools from their tusks and bones.
Around 4,000 years ago, the creatures were extinct. Scientists have been collecting bits and pieces of mammoth tusks, bones, teeth, and hair for decades to extract and sequence the mammoth's DNA.
Related Article: 5 Extinct Species That Strangely Came Back to Life
Producing an Elephant-Mammoth Hybrid
To produce an "elephant-mammoth hybrid," Colossal plans to introduce DNA sequences from woolly mammoths gathered from well-preserved bones in permafrost and freezing steppes into the genome of Asian elephants.
According to Colossal's website, Asian elephants and woolly mammoths have 99.6% identical DNA.
George Church, a co-founder of the company and a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, is a famous geneticist working to save species using cutting-edge approaches such as CRISPR technology.
In a statement, Church stated, "Technologies developed in pursuit of this big vision-a living, walking proxy of a woolly mammoth-could provide significant opportunities in conservation and beyond."
Scientists considered the enormous migratory patterns of the woolly mammoth as crucial to the Arctic region's environmental health.
The restoration of the creatures, according to Colossal, has the potential to restore the Arctic grasslands, a vast territory with significant climate change-fighting qualities like carbon sequestration and methane suppression.
According to the company, the Colossal was sponsored in part by a $15 million startup round from investors, and its advisors include bioethics and genomics experts.
The process of creating an organism that resembles or is an extinct species is known as de-extinction (also known as resurrection biology or species revivalism).
De-extinction can be carried out in a variety of ways. Cloning is the approach that has received the most attention, but genome editing and selective breeding have also been proposed. In addition, certain endangered animals have been given similar treatments to increase their genetic variety. However, cloning is the only procedure of the three that would result in an animal with the same genetic identity.
The process of de-extinction has both advantages and disadvantages, ranging from technological breakthroughs to ethical concerns.
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