Woolly mammoth DNA was recently discovered by scientists. They are attempting to use this cold-resistant DNA of the extinct woolly mammoth to alter the genes of living elephants in today’s time.

Amid climate change and global warming, scientists are aiming to create a mammoth-elephant hybrid to live and help restore Arctic ecosystems.

Discovered Wolly Mammoth DNA Becomes a Reality

Woolly mammoths became extinct approximately 10,000 years ago, as per The Guardian. Although it is not completely clear how these ancient mammoths died, it has been widely known that these extinct Arctic elephants likely died from climate change and possibly due to widespread hunting by humans.

Scientists are attempting to create a so-called Arctic elephant in an attempt to save at least the genes of a wooly mammoth from extinction, according to The Times.

Despite the extinction of woolly mammoths thousands of years ago, researchers have recently discovered the well-preserved DNA of the mammoths in the Arctic permafrost.

Scientists at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, are using the collected sample DNAs of woolly mammoths and combining them with the DNA of elephants from Asia.

The scientists at Harvard have chosen elephants from Asia since they are the closes living relatives of woolly mammoths. Through this process, scientists may possibly bring the genes of the extinct mammoths back to life.

New Company Supports Woolly Mammoth Research

The team of scientists is led by George Church, a genetics professor and a biologist at Harvard Medical School. With the help of entrepreneurs, Church also co-founded Colossal, a company whose aim is to patent gene-editing technology that will bring mammoth DNA back to life.

The company is said to have raised $15 million in private funding to bring thousands of woolly mammoths back into the Siberian tundra, as per The New York Times. Unlike in the past, the establishment of the new company indicates that efforts to restore extinct woolly mammoths are stronger now.  

Role of Arctic Elephants against Global Warming

Church clarified that their experimentation would not necessarily result in the instant creation of living mammoths right away. He said their goal is to introduce these genes into today’s elephants. These mammoth-elephant hybrids can live and help restore Arctic ecosystems, says Church.

Furthermore, Church reportedly told the New York Times that the new mammoth-elephant hybrids should be called an Arctic elephant. These Arctic elephants are expected by Church not only to live in the Arctic but also to trample and prevent the rapid tree growth currently seen in the Arctic.

The trees prevent the cold temperature to penetrate and freeze the ground, according to Church. Amid climate change and global warming, Church said the melting of ice in the Arctic will have aggravating and catastrophic consequences to the current environmental condition in the coming decades.

Church explains that the trapped large amounts of carbon and methane beneath the Arctic permafrost can aggravate climate change and global warming.

If the research of the Arctic elephants becomes successful, the trapped carbon and methane will not be able to escape into the atmosphere.

While the research seems to be promising, it also raises ethical debates if humans should edit the genes and DNA of other animals. According to Julian Koplin, a Research Fellow in Biomedical Ethics at the University of Melbourne, “Projects involving genetic manipulation frequently raise concerns about ‘playing God’ or interfering with nature,” as per Ceng News.

Source: Nature World News

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