The American company Colossal, launched on Monday (13), faces the challenge of making woolly mammoth, extinct 4000 years ago, set foot on the polar land once again. The company will use genetic manipulation techniques to carry out the extinction of the species.
“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.
Closal predicts that creating and reintroducing these snake hybrids 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.
Biologist Beth Shapiro predicted for The New York Times: “Many problems will arise from this process. This is not extinction prevention. There will never be mammoths on Earth again. If it succeeds, it will be a fictional elephant, a completely new and genetically modified organism,” Tori Heridge wrote, Biologist and paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London.
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