According to Harvard University geneticist Prof George Church and his team, the extinct ice age creature known as the woolly mammoth may not be extinct for too much longer.
According to Church, he and his team have spent the last two years working on successfully reconstructing the DNA blueprint of the mammoth using the DNA found in the preserved remains of frozen mammoths found in the arctic. Splicing the genes into elephant embryos, Church and his team believes that they can have a mammoth-elephant hybrid.
While cloning a woolly mammoth may never be 100% achievable, Church believes that growing an elephant in an artificial womb will allow them to add mammoth characteristics such as the anti-freeze blood, smaller ears, and that famous shaggy coat.
“Our aim is to produce a hybrid elephant/mammoth embryo. Actually it would be more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits. We’re not there yet, but it could happen in a couple of years,” said Church.
The reason for bringing back the mammoth goes beyond just being an interesting thing to try. Church believes that these elephant-mammoths could have a positive effect on the environment. For one, it could allow the endangered Asian elephant from going extinct by putting them in much colder climates, but these elephants could also combat “global warming.”
“They keep the tundra from thawing by punching through snow and allowing cold air to come in,” said Church. “In the summer they knock down trees and help the grass grow.”