According to the Guardian, scientists are in the process of bringing the currently extinct woolly mammoth back to life.
Professor George Church of Harvard, called a maverick geneticist by New Scientist, is heading a team of a “de-extinction” scientists that have stated that it’s around two years away from producing a woolly mammoth by creating a hybrid embryo combining Asian elephant DNA with mammoth traits.
About 4,000 years ago, woolly mammoths went extinct because of warming temperatures and human hunting, Alaska’s woolly mammoths have likely died of thirst.
However, in the past few years, Church, along with his team, have been able to splice 45 mammoth edits into Asian elephant DNA. Among the spliced edits are the ones controlling the mammoth’s distinctive shaggy hair, small ears, fat layers, etc…
Church and his team believe that in two years they can have a “mammophant” embryo. However, it will probably be much longer before we see an actual mammoth in the wild. The team aims at growing mammophants completely in a lab so that they do not mess with the Asian elephants’ reproduction, as they are endangered, nevertheless, this technology doesn’t exist yet.
The importance of the Wooly Mammoth:
Church says that if this project succeeds, it will not just be a new attraction for zoos. If a herd of mammophants is released into the arctic, it would help fight climate change by keeping the tundra from thawing. The herd will be punching down in the snow during wintertime which allows cold air to circle into the snow, preventing it from thawing.