A group of scientists and entrepreneurs have formed a company named Colossal which aims to bring mammoths back to Siberia. The animals have been extinct for thousands of years, but fragments of DNA have been preserved in fossils. The idea of reviving the species has been discussed before, but Colossal brings fresh funding to the project. The team believes they can produce mammoth-like elephants by editing elephant DNA, "adding genes for mammoth traits like dense hair and thick fat for withstanding cold." It's quite a mammoth undertaking.
Why pour millions of dollars to revive an extinct species? Dr. George Church, a biologist at Harvard Medical School and Colossal, believes the animals may play an important role in a rapidly-changing ecosystem.
"Beyond scientific curiosity, he argued, revived woolly mammoths could help the environment. Today, the tundra of Siberia and North America where the animals once grazed is rapidly warming and releasing carbon dioxide. "Mammoths are hypothetically a solution to this," Dr. Church argued in his talk.
Today the tundra is dominated by moss. But when woolly mammoths were around, it was largely grassland. Some researchers have argued that woolly mammoths were ecosystem engineers, maintaining the grasslands by breaking up moss, knocking down trees and providing fertilizer with their droppings."Via The New York Times
However, the scientific endeavor led by tech entrepreneurs has raised some eyebrows.
"Not all scientists suspect that creating mammoth-like animals in the lab is the most effective way to restore the tundra. 'My personal thinking is that the justifications given – the idea that you could geoengineer the Arctic environment using a heard of mammoths – isn't plausible,' said Dr Victoria Herridge, an evolutionary biologist at the Natural History Museum."Via The Guardian
Personally, I think that Colossal should do dinosaurs next— and then make a theme park. What could go wrong?