Harvard researchers want to revive the mammoth
The researchers' work to recreate the mammoth is moving forward. The goal is for the animals to become part of the Siberian ecosystem again.
With the help of advanced genetic engineering, scientists are now trying to recreate the woolly mammoth in a new form. They hope to see the first embryos within a few years.
More than 4000 years after the last mammoths disappeared from the earth’s surface, the fur-covered ice age giants should be brought back to life.
That is claimed by George Church, a researcher at Harvard University and leading a group of geneticists, who are currently working on high pressure to recreate the gigantic clockwork elephant.
“We’re not there yet, but it could happen in a few years,” he tells The Guardian.
Elephant with long fur
The plan is to combine mammoth genes derived from the Siberian permafrost with the mammoth’s closest living relative – the Indian elephant.
“Our goal is to create elephant-mammoth hybrid embryos. In fact, it’s probably more like an elephant with mammoth characteristics, ”says George Church.
He expects the result to be an Indian elephant with small ears, a thick fat layer, long coat and blood adapted to a colder climate.
Cuts and pastes in genes
It will become a reality with the help of the relatively new genetic tool CRISPR, which enables researchers to cut and paste genes and thus add the mammoth’s characteristics to the elephant’s DNA.
So far, Church and his group have succeeded several times in the cell stage. Now the next step is to create embryos that will grow large – not in the elephant’s womb, but in a laboratory.
“It would be senseless to risk the reproduction of a threatened animal species such as the Indian elephant,” they say.