A new company with a crazy mission: to bring back the woolly mammoth

At the time, researchers were learning to reconstruct the genomes of extinct species from DNA fragments recovered from fossils. It becomes possible to identify the genetic differences that distinguish ancient species from their modern cousins, and begin to discover how these DNA differences led to differences in their bodies.

Dr Church, famous for inventing ways to read and modify DNA, wondered if he could actually revive extinct species by rewriting the genes of a surviving parent. Because Asian elephants and mammoths share a common ancestor that lived around six million years ago, Dr. Church thought it might be possible to modify the elephant’s genome to produce something who looks and acts like a mammoth.

In addition to scientific curiosity, he said, woolly mammoths could help the environment. Today, the tundra in Siberia and North America is warming where animals once grazed quickly and release carbon dioxide. “The mammoth in theory is the answer to this,” argued Dr Church.

Today, algae dominate the tundra. But when woolly mammoths were present, it was mostly grasslands. Some researchers have argued that woolly mammoths are ecosystem engineers, nurturing grasslands by breaking up algae, chopping down trees, and providing fertilizer with their droppings.

Russian conservationists imported bison and other species to a reserve in Siberia they named Pleistocene Park, in hopes of bringing the tundra back to the grasslands. Dr Church argued that a resurrected woolly mammoth would be able to do this more effectively. The restored grasslands would prevent the soil from thawing and eroding, he said, and could block heat-trapping carbon dioxide.

Dr. Church’s proposal has attracted a lot of Journalism’s attention but little funding exceeds $ 100,000 from PayPal co-founder Pierre Thiel. Dr Church’s lab directed the gigantic research to other, better-funded trials. “This set of tools can be used for many purposes, from de-extinction to re-encoding the human genome,” said Dr Hesoli.

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By analyzing the genomes of the woolly mammoth collected from the fossils, Dr Hesoli and his colleagues have compiled a list of the most important differences between animals and elephants. They focused on 60 genes that their experiments suggest to be important for mammoth traits, such as hair, fat, and a distinctive high-domed mammoth skull.

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