Scientists want to clone a woolly mammoth, resurrecting the species. This week, a scientist at Harvard University claimed that he and his team are only two years apart from accomplishing their dream. They want to resurrect woolly mammoths which got extinct during the last ice age. Their primary purpose is to develop an embryo which is a hybrid of the woolly mammoth and the Asian elephant.
The Asian elephant is known to be the mammoth’s closest relative. George Church, the researcher in charge of the study, claimed that they aim to create an elephant-mammoth embryo. Probably, it will be more like elephants which would have many mammoth traits. Last year, Church explained that this process requires scientists to retrieve DNA from the remains of a mammoth which were preserved through freezing.
Then, they should split that DNA reducing it to the genome of an Asian elephant. These two species are so closely related in such a way that they would be able to reproduce if they were both alive today. Nevertheless, this project faced a lot of obstacles, having a lot of critics. Conservationists called this plan an artifice. They claimed that this de-extinction idea is only bound to divert people from the efforts for conserving the existing species, which are threatened by extinction.
However, Church noted that his and his team’s efforts are only bound to improve efforts of conservation regarding the engendered Asian elephants. He wants to modify their DNA, developing them into creatures which could quickly adapt to cold, allowing them to live in expanding their habitat and live in colder areas of the world. Church pointed out that he calls these creatures “cold-resistant Asian elephants.”
Church stated that the pictures these hybrid animals to live on the tundras of Canada and Russia. Their presence there could help mitigate the dreadful effects of global warming. Church wrote that these wooly mammoths could keep the area colder by consuming dead grass. In this way, they would enable the sun to reach the roots of the spring grass. They would increase the amount of reflected light by harvesting trees, bound to absorb sunlight.
These creatures would strike through the insulating snow to let the freezing air penetrate the earth. Moreover, poachers would be less likely to go after Arctic mammoths compared to African elephants.
Image courtesy of: wikipedia