Scientists in the United States want to revive the woolly mammoth population by genetically modifying a rare Asian elephant. George Church, the founder of the project and professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, spoke about this at the Science in the Age of Experience 2021 conference.
Researchers want to create a new species of animals that resembles the extinct woolly mammoths. They plan to do this by genetically engineering the endangered Asian elephants so that they can withstand arctic temperatures and are resistant to the herpes virus.
The Colossal project was hatched for several years, but it was not given the necessary funding. Now scientists have received $ 15 million from various investors. One of the project leaders is George Church, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School. Previously, he founded the Human Genome Project and 20 companies, and holds over 100 patents.
Until now, the idea of reviving the woolly mammoth has been “mostly dreams and conversations,” Church said. However, now, with the help of funding, they can move to the implementation stage.
It will take at least six years to create the first calf, but this is a very optimistic timeline, Church notes. “Before, I could answer the question about dates like this:“ I have no idea. We have no funding. ” But now I cannot evade the answer. I would say that six years is not excluded, ”Church said.
Proponents of the project argue that the Arctic population of woolly mammoths could slow global warming. This may be due to a slowdown in the melting of permafrost, in which methane is now trapped.
Woolly mammoths became extinct within 10 thousand years, and the last populations lived on Earth up to 4 thousand years ago. However, genetically, the mammoth is very similar to the Asian elephant. With this endangered species, scientists want to recreate woolly mammoths.
“There are two main things that put him at risk. The first is the herpes virus. And the second is close proximity to people. Therefore, we would like to fix both of these problems and give them a new home, where there is a huge space and almost no people, and this is northern Canada, Alaska and Siberia.”