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Science on the road to De-extinction of the Woolly Mammoth

cjmagowan  —  2 years ago ( Feb 19, 2017 )    |    Science

The Woolly Mammoth as depicted here roamed the earth thousands of years. They went extinct at around 4000 years ago for reasons yet to be debated, scientists claimed that factors such as climate change or probably by hunting from humans led the mammoths disappearance from the earth.

As science move forward new genetic techniques may one day revived this gigantic beasts. According to Professor George Church the lead scientist from theHarvard team of scientist proposed the De-extinction of Mammoth may be not to far off, he added that the possibility of producing a hybrid-embryo would be achievable for the next two years. The project was unveiled during the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Boston this week.

Our aim is to produce a hybrid elephant-mammoth embryo, said Prof George Church. Actually, it would be more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits. Were not there yet, but it could happen in a couple of years.

The project started in 2015 after successfully extracting DNA from a frozen Mammoth carcass found in Siberian ice in 2014. Since then, scientist continuously work on their specimen where they were able to spliced out a total of 45 mammoth genes from the initial 15 to an Asian elephant through an advanced and powerful gene-editing tool Crispr and has now progressed into the cellular stage. As envisioned, their creature would be called the mammophant – a hybrid creature using an Asian elephant origin with a mammoth like characteristics introduced through genetic engineering.

The mammophant hopes resolved current issues with the Asian elephant in particular, the Asian elephant is now an endangered specie and having them artificially evolved would cause them or hopes to cause them reproduce new babies, thus helping the specie to increase in numbers. In addition to that, the project also aimed to provide new characteristics on this hybrid creature such as smaller ears, subcutaneous fat, long and thick shaggy hair and cold-adapted blood.

The scientist working on the matter expects to leap into the embryonic stage which will then bring the mammophant to life but that not without a hitch by the way. There were certain issues from the process of bringing the creature to life, our advancement in genetic and cellular engineering is at its younger stage which requires further research and testing before it becomes a viable tool for ultimately creating a creature from cell without a host mother since scientists are fully aware that the Asian elephant are currently an endangered specie and making one of then a surrogate mother from this projects proves to be a risk. Professor Church proposed an ex-vivo technique is

Other issues would also involved social and ethical issues. According to Professor Matthew Cobb of zoology at the University of Manchester, The proposed de-extinction of mammoths raises a massive ethical issue the mammoth was not simply a set of genes, it was a social animal, as is the modern Asian elephant. What will happen when the elephant-mammoth hybrid is born? How will it be greeted by elephants?

Though everything else is still on the drawing board, along the way, science hoped to resolve these issues before it goes further and eventually realizing this project into a living and unique creature.

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SOURCEThe Guardian