A Harvard University scientist told The Guardian this week that his team is only two years from resurrecting some traits of the woolly mammoth, which went extinct during the last ice age. The goal is to create an embryo that’s a hybrid of the woolly mammoth and its closest living relative, the Asian elephant.
“Our aim is to produce a hybrid elephant-mammoth embryo,” researcher George Church told The Guardian. “Actually, it would be more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits.”
Church explained to HuffPost last year that the process involves retrieving DNA from mammoth remains preserved on the frozen tundra, then splicing that DNA into the genome of an Asian elephant. The species are so closely related that they would be able to breed if both were alive today, Church noted.
The project has plenty of critics, including conservationists who call it a gimmick and say the idea of “de-extinction” diverts attention from efforts to conserve species that are still alive. Church, for his part, has said his efforts would improve conservation of endangered Asian elephants, engineering them to be better adapted to cold — thus allowing them to live in expanded territory.
“I call them cold-resistant Asian elephants,” Church told HuffPost in a 2016 interview…. see more