The challenge that the US company Colossal, which it launched on Monday, will try to overcome with the help of genetic manipulation techniques, is that the woolly mammoth, a species extinct 4,000 years ago, will once again set foot on Arctic soils.
“Colossal will launch a practical and efficient de-extinction model and will be the first company to apply advanced genetic modification techniques to reintegrate woolly mammoths in the arctic tundra,” the company said.
De-extinction, the concept of creating an animal similar to an extinct species, through genetics, is not unanimous among the scientific community. Some researchers doubt its usefulness or worry about the risks of its application.
Colossal, created by businessman Ben Lam and geneticist George Church, will attempt to insert DNA sequences from woolly mammoths (obtained from remains preserved in Siberian soil) into the genome of Asian elephants, in order to create hybrid species. On its website, the company says that the DNA of the Asian elephant and woolly mammoth is 99.6% similar.
Colossal predicts that creating these hybrid snakes and reintroducing them into the tundra would make it possible to “restore vanished ecosystems, which could help curb, or even reverse, the effects of climate change.”
The modified Mammoth Woolley could “give new life to Arctic grasslands,” which, according to the company, captures carbon dioxide and removes methane, two greenhouse gases.
The biotech company managed to raise $15 million in private money to achieve its goal, and some experts greeted it with skepticism. “A lot of problems will arise from this process,” biologist Beth Shapiro told the New York Times. “This is not extinction. There will be no mammoths on Earth again. If it succeeds, it will be a fictional elephant, an entirely new, synthetic and genetically modified organism,” writes Tori Heridge, a biologist and paleontologist at the Museum of Natural History. in London.
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