“Colossal is trying to bring the mammoth back to life“The US genetic company is developing a project that aims to bring the animal that disappeared 4,000 years ago back to life by exploiting some of its embryos mixed with those of the Asian elephant. $ 15 million was raised (€ 12.7) and the intention is to reintroduce the woolly mammoth to the Arctic tundra, with the first specimens that could “be born” in only four / six years, as pointed out by the high-tech entrepreneur Ben Lamm who, together with the American geneticist of Harvard University George Church, founded the biosciences and genetics company Colossal to carry out this project.
“This is how the hybrid will survive in the Arctic”
Church’s team analyzed the genomes of 23 species of extinct living elephants and mammoths, and scientists estimate they will have to program simultaneously “more than 50 modifications“to the genetic code of the Asian elephant to give it the characteristics necessary to live in the Arctic. Features, explains Church, like a 10-centimeter layer of insulating fat and smaller ears that will help the hybrid cope with the cold better. But there is no shortage of skeptics in the scientific community. According to Love Dalén, a lecturer in evolutionary genetics at the Stockholm Center for Paleogenetics, Church’s work has scientific value particularly when it comes to the conservation of endangered species. However, Dalén wonders “what would be the point” of the ongoing research: “First of all – points out – you don’t get a mammoth, but a hairy elephant with fat deposits“.