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Science & Technology

Woolly mammoth 'on the verge of resurrection'

By T.K. Randall
February 16, 2017 · Comment icon 17 comments

Mammoths could roam the Earth again soon. Image Credit: CC BY 2.5 Public Library of Science
Scientists believe that an elephant-mammoth hybrid embryo could be created within as little as two years.
Speaking in advance of this year's American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting, Professor George Church, the scientist leading efforts to achieve the 'de-extinction' of the woolly mammoth, has claimed that success may be only a couple of years away.

His team at Harvard University has been working to create a "mammophant" - a cross between a modern elephant and a mammoth that will possess some of the physical traits of both species.

To achieve this, the researchers are going to splice in the genes associated with certain mammoth traits such as long shaggy hair, subcutaneous fat and blood adapted to cold weather climates.

"We're working on ways to evaluate the impact of all these edits and basically trying to establish embryogenesis in the lab," said Professor Church.
There are even plans to grow the hybrid inside an artificial womb rather than in a surrogate mother, mainly to avoid harming any elephants which are themselves becoming increasingly endangered.

Not everyone however is enthusiastic about what the team is attempting to achieve.

"The proposed 'de-extinction' of mammoths raises a massive ethical issue - the mammoth was not simply a set of genes, it was a social animal, as is the modern Asian elephant," said Matthew Cobb, professor of zoology at the University of Manchester.

"What will happen when the elephant-mammoth hybrid is born ?"

"How will it be greeted by elephants ?"

Source: The Guardian | Comments (17)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #8 Posted by White Unicorn 7 years ago
I heard about this years ago and it was about gene editing a hybrid but the process would take years of editing out the elephant genes from the hybrids born.
Comment icon #9 Posted by oldrover 7 years ago
I think, that was the old idea, before they'd recovered the whole genomes of quite a few extinct species.  As an aside, they now have the complete thylacine genome. It's not been formally published on yet though. I'm not claiming any special insight there, I do have a couple of good connections but I learned that from 'Expedition Unkown'. 
Comment icon #10 Posted by woopypooky 7 years ago
For those people who tried to resurrect dinosaurs and ice age creatures, what's the benefit in doing so?
Comment icon #11 Posted by taniwha 7 years ago
  Jun 11, 1993Jurassic Park $63,000,000 $50,159,460 $395,708,305 $1,038,812,584 May 22, 1997The Lost World: Jurassic Park $75,000,000 $72,132,785 $229,086,679 $618,638,999  Jul 18, 2001Jurassic Park III $93,000,000 $50,771,645 $181,166,115 $365,900,000  Jun 12, 2015Jurassic World $215,000,000 $208,806,270 $652,198,010 $1,671,640,59 Jun 22, 2018Jurassic World Sequel  $0$0     Totals $446,000,000 $1,458,159,109 $3,694,992,176   Averages $111,500,000 $95,467,540 $364,539,777 $923,748,044  The Benefits of Cloning Dinosaurs
Comment icon #12 Posted by Sundew 7 years ago
Well, first of all, you can never tell how such technology might be helpful in the future, say in medicine or gene therapy. Secondly, in the case of certain more modern creatures, like say Stellar's Sea Cow, Passenger Pigeon, Carolina Parakeet, Thylacine and many others, these were wiped out in fairly recent history by man's thoughtlessness. By removing them from their natural habitat, we changed the environment in which they lived. If we could bring them back, we might rectify the damage we have caused.  As for dinosaurs, I'm fairly certain without good genetic material, that will not happen... [More]
Comment icon #13 Posted by Mattstar 7 years ago
Our ancestors hunted them and most other species of mega-fauna to extinction. If there's a chance we can undo mistakes of the past, I think we should bring them back! Bring a few back and set up a reserve for them.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Myles 7 years ago
From what I have read, humans played a part, but may not have been the biggest reason for their extinction.   Disease, lack of fresh water and climate change may have been bigger factors. 
Comment icon #15 Posted by MissJatti 7 years ago
scientists are so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should.
Comment icon #16 Posted by oldrover 7 years ago
Better to spend the money saving species that are dying out now, before we have to rescue them form beyond extinction. As much as I love thylacines I'd rather see the money spent combating DFTD and saving the quoll. 
Comment icon #17 Posted by Sundew 7 years ago
I'm sure being two different disciplines, there's room for both ideals and funding for each likely comes from different sources, it's not like one group supports every cause. The quoll is probably more endangered from introduced foxes and cats, whether they will ever be mostly controlled remains to be seen. 


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