Scientists Close To Resurrecting The Woolly Mammoth

Woolly mammoth, computer artwork

Woolly mammoth, computer artwork

Despite this progress, HISTORY reports the research team says it will take many years before they can produce a living creature.

Speaking to The Guardian, Matthew Cobb, professor of zoology at the University of Manchester, raised a few concerns about the project: "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".

"We're working on ways to evaluate the impact of all these edits and basically trying to establish embryogenesis in the lab", Church told the newspaper.

Thanks to cutting-edge gene editing techniques, Harvard scientists could soon bring animals based on long-extinct woolly mammoths to life.

Church added in an interview with The Guardian that the hybrid will be more of an elephant exhibiting some mammoth traits, such as smaller ears, hairy body, and subcutaneous fat.

The process of resurrecting the creature is a complicated feat of genetic "editing" which involves splicing DNA.

Woolly mammoths are believed to have gone extinct in response to a combination of human hunting and climate change. If their goal were to perfectly re-create the mammoth genome, they'd still have thousands to go. "We're not there yet, but it could happen in a couple of years".

"The list of edits affects things that contribute to the success of elephants in cold environments", he said. Other options to cloning might include some type of bio-mechanical answer like the one Japanese scientists came up with when they invented the robot bee to replace the real bees that are dying off in mass numbers.

"I call them cold-resistant Asian elephants", Church told HuffPost in a 2016 interview.

Do you think geneticists should clone a woolly mammoth hybrid? Church, for his part, has said his efforts would improve conservation of endangered Asian elephants, engineering them to be better adapted to cold - thus allowing them to live in expanded territory.

When woolly mammoths existed, they helped nurture grasslands and suppress forest growth.

Church said he envisions the hybrid creatures living on the tundras of Russian Federation and Canada, where he has argued their presence could help stave off the effects of climate change.

Researchers said that reintroducing the woolly mammoths, or at least something similar to mammoths to the tundra would help revive ancient grassland, which in turn can help slow down the thawing of the permafrost and prevent the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.