Business launched on Monday wants to resuscitate an animal that disappeared thousands of years ago: the woolly mammoth
Colossal, founded by Ben Lamm, a technology and software entrepreneur, and George Church, a biologist at Harvard Medical School, hopes to “rapidly advance the field of species de-extinction,” according to a press release from the company.
That goal includes using gene editing “to restore the woolly mammoth in the arctic tundra,” the statement said.
The research will involve reprogramming elephant DNA with gigantic features, like thick hair and layers of fat, to help hybrid animals survive in the Siberian tundra, according to multiple reports. The researchers have targeted 60 genes that are the hallmarks of the mammoth, and they will use elephant eggs or tissue.
Researchers believe that if mammoths can be created, they could revitalize arctic grasslands. Colossal in its Monday press release said it could have “major climate change-fighting properties, including carbon sequestration, methane removal and light reflection.”
Woolly mammoths:World’s oldest DNA found in 1.2 million-year-old mammoth teeth
“Completely preserved”:Ice Age cave bear carcass found by reindeer herders in Russia
Researchers hope to produce embryos for the creatures within a few years, according to several reports.
The project is not new territory for Church, who is a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and a senior faculty member at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. For the past eight years, he has led a research group on methods of creating mammoths, the New York Times reported.
Colossal was launched with $ 15 million in funding, including investments from Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the twins who rose to fame after suing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
The project has raised concerns from other researchers. Victoria Herridge, evolutionary biologist at the Natural History Museum in London, told The Guardian: “My personal thought is that the justifications given – the idea that you could geo-design the arctic environment using a knowledge of mammoths – are not plausible.
“The scale at which you should have this experience is enormous. You are talking about hundreds of thousands of mammoths that each take 22 months to gestate and 30 years to reach maturity, ”she added.
Gareth Phoenix, professor of plant ecology and climate change at the University of Sheffield, told the outlet: “While we need a multitude of different approaches to stop climate change, we also need initiate solutions responsibly to avoid unintended damaging consequences.
“Mammoths are offered as a solution to help stop the thaw of permafrost, as they will remove trees, trample and compact the soil, and convert landscapes to grasslands, which can help keep the soil cool,” he said. he declares. “However, we do know that in the woodlands of the arctic that trees and moss can be essential in permafrost protection, so removing the trees and stomping on the moss would be the last thing you would want to do.”