New Delhi: The woolly mammoth, which went extinct during the last Ice Age, may be a few years away from roaming the Earth again, as per scientists who are trying to resurrect the ancient beast using genetic engineering technology.
A team of scientists from Harvard University is producing a hybrid woolly mammoth embryo using DNA from specimens found frozen in Siberian ice. “Our aim is to produce a hybrid elephant-mammoth embryo,” researcher George Church, who leads the tream, told The Guardian. “Actually, it would be more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits.”
He added that his team is just two years away from creating a hybrid embryo, in which mammoth traits would be programmed into an Asian elephant.
The team, however, wants to grow the creature in an artificial womb instead of using a female elephant. Church said the scientists are working on ways to evaluate the impact of all these (gene) edits and basically trying to establish embryogenesis in the lab.
The creature, which is being referred to as a “mammophant”, would be partly elephant, but will feature small ears, long shaggy hair and cold-adapted blood. Scientists said that although they’re moving towards creating embryo, it would take many years before producing an actual living creature that has traits of both mammoths and elephants.
During the last Ige Age, the woolly mammoth roamed across Europe, Asia, Africa and North America and vanished about 4,000 years ago, probably due to a combination of climate change and hunting by humans.
They said the closest living relative is the Asian, not the African, elephant. And that’s why scientists are splicing the DNA retrieved from mammoth remains into the genome of an Asian elephant. Prof Church revealed the latest stage of the project, which started in 2015, while speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Boston.