Do you remember that movie, Jurassic Park, where some scientist just casually resurrects extinct dinosaurs? Well, that is happening in a laboratory in Dallas with the Woolly Mammoth.
Colossal Biosciences is a company that has labs in Boston, Harvard University, Dallas and Australia, and is focused to “restore Earth to a healthier state” and to solve the future biological necessities for humanity. Ok, that sounds nice, but why would they want to bring back to life an extinct species and how would they do it?
Well, according to the company, the wooly mammoth was crucial to the Antarctic ecosystem and helped the preservation of permafrost, a type of frozen soil. This soil stores carbon and releases it when it melts, annually it is estimated that 600 million tons of carbon are released into the atmosphere due to melting of permafrost. Mammoths’ migratory patterns helped to control grass and to expose the soil to the cold wind, freezing it.
By de-extincting mammoths, scientists hope to bring some balance to the Antarctic region.
To resurrect the mammoth, they plan to create new hybrids based on the Asian elephant, as both animals share 99.6% of DNA. Scientists plan to discover some cold-resistant genes and then edit them into the elephant’s DNA.
In fact, the extinction of the mammoth was relatively recent; the last population died about 4,000 years ago, 1,000 after the Pyramids of Giza were built.
To bring back an extinct species could be a huge achievement in biology and may help to restore damaged ecosystems.