De-Extinction of the Woolly Mammoth is Now a Step Closer

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De-extinction is long seen by scientists as a method to resurrect an organism that is either a member of the specie’s family or resembles the member.

Most of the endangered species or the ones that have already become extinct can be revived again to study the habitat and the species impact on the environment.

The revival of the woolly mammoth has been the most interesting topic ever since cloning and de-extinction have been discussed. Scientists in favour of de-extinction most of the time refer to the resurrecting of the woolly mammoth as an ideal way of studying the impacts that the environment has had after its extinction.

They further argue that mammoth hybrids that are newly developed may reverse the effects of global warming in areas like Alaska and Siberia as they would eat dead grass and allow the sun rays to reach spring grass and also that their weight would break the dense and insulating snow in the region and will allow the cold air to reach the outer layers of the soil. If at all the theories are proven right, then global warming could possibly be lessened.

In what can be supposed as a step ahead in their plans resurrect the woolly mammoth, scientists from the Harvard University are preparing to share the details of the project. At the Fourth International Vatican Conference, Harvard geneticist Professor George Church detailed about the plans to use gene editing and create hybrid mammoth elephants that can be born by using an artificial womb.

Using stem cells, the scientists will first create a vascularised decidua that will make a uterine lining with the required blood vessels that will support life. Church told the audience, “We have one paper coming out which is a general method where we can turn stem cells into any tissue you want and in this case, we want decidua, which is the tissue into which the embryos implant, and we’re trying to make a vascularized version of that.”

He further noted that their goal is to create a ‘mammophant’ that will be cold-resistant and will sport the same shaggy hair that the mammoths had together with other characteristics of the ancestor including smaller ears. To reach this stage, Church’s team has been increasing the quantity of the edits to the mammoth’s DNA and have so far resurrected 44 of its genes.

The researchers are getting ready to publish some of their findings and it will be a decade or so for the new woolly mammoth to be born again.