Honed with giant tusks and thick coats on the body, woolly mammoths used to roam the Arctic Tundra during the Ice Age, almost 10,500 years ago. The last living population of these massive creatures was wiped out roughly 4,000 years ago due to rising temperatures and hunting by humans. However, the magnificence of these creatures might return to the Earth’s surface. Colossal, a genetics and bioscience company, is all set to recreate mammoths and return them to their freezing home turf – the Arctic. The company has provided funding of $15 million (roughly Rs.110 crore) to turn the research into reality.
Co-founded by Ben Lamm, a tech entrepreneur and the owner of five different companies, and Dr George Church, Robert Winthrop Professor of genetics, Harvard Medical School, Colossal, has taken an onus to complete this task of de-extinction and restoration of the degraded and defunct ecosystems.
The researchers’ crosshair is on the creation of a hybrid between an Asian elephant and the Woolly Mammoth, which can resist cold temperatures. The mammoth DNA will be restructured and aligned with that of the Asian elephant, a species that is on the brink of extinction.
Other mammoth features like insulating layers of hair and fat and gigantic tusks will be engineered using genomes extracted from the permafrost excavation that introduced Baby Lyuba, the best-preserved woolly mammoth, to the world. The concocted embryo will then be fostered inside either a surrogate womb or an artificially developed one.
With the regeneration of the mammoth-like creature, scientists believe that it can save the Asian elephants from extinction by giving them abilities to survive in vast masses, along with saving the degraded habitats of the Tundra. The project also has the ability to curb the effects of climate change on the Arctic region.
“We are trying to build a combination of a mammoth and an elephant that can enjoy its time in excruciating cold temperatures and do things that these creatures normally do, including their favourite, knocking down trees,” DrChurch told the Guardian.
“It is the first time that humans can harness the power of an eco-system-rebuilding technology. With this project, we will be able to save species on the verge of extinction and restore those that vanished due to human interruption,” Ben Lamm told Business Wire.
The project has an ultra-wide implication on the overall ecosystem of planet Earth. However, the company is focusing on regenerating the massive-tusked arctic creatures for now. If this research goes as planned, it can bring some mammoth changes to our blue planet.