Science – American company wants to reinvent the woolly mammoth

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The goal of the Colossal company is to create a hybrid. To do this, it would involve inserting DNA sequences from woolly mammoths collected from remains conserved in Siberian soils into the genomes of Asian elephants.

Mammoths died out 4000 years ago.

AFP photo/Beth Zacken/Center for Paleogenetics

The woolly mammoth, a species that went extinct 4,000 years ago, has once again set foot on Arctic soil, a challenge the US company is trying to meet with the help of colossal genetic manipulation techniques it launched on Monday.

“Will launch a practical and efficient model of colossal extinction and will be the first to apply advanced genetic modification techniques to reintroduce woolly mammoths into the Arctic tundra,” the company said in a statement.

Extinction, the concept of creating an animal similar to an extinct species using genetics, is not unanimous in the scientific community, with some researchers doubting its feasibility or worrying about the risks of its application.

Created by entrepreneur Ben Lamm and geneticist George Church, Colossal intends to insert the DNA sequences of woolly mammoths collected from remains preserved in Siberian soils into the genomes of Asian elephants, to create a species hybrid.

Asian elephants and woolly mammoths have 99.6% identical DNA, Colossal explains on its website.

a hybrid species

The creation of these hybrid pachyderms and then their reintroduction into the tundra could make it possible to “restore vanishing ecosystems that could help prevent or even reverse the effects of climate change”, to the company. gives assurance.

Genetically modified woolly mammoths in particular could “give new life to the Arctic prairie,” according to Colossal, making it possible to capture carbon dioxide and remove methane, two greenhouse gases.

The biotechnology company has managed to raise $15 million (about CHF 14 million) in private funding to meet this goal, which has been greeted with skepticism by some experts. “There’s going to be a lot of issues in the process,” biologist Beth Shapiro told The New York Times.

“This is not an extinction. There will never be mammoths on Earth again. If it works, it will be a chimeric elephant, a completely new organism, synthetic and genetically modified,” at the Natural History Museum in London Biologist and paleontologist Tory Herridge tweeted.


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