Scientists have been discussing and debating over it for years, and now the first real step towards bringing the extinct woolly mammoth back from the dead is complete.
A renowned geneticist in the US has extracted DNA from the frozen remains of a long-dead mammoth found on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean, created a synthetic replica of it, and implanted it into elephant cells that have been isolated in a petri dish, using a new technique of DNA splicing that allows for unprecedented accuracy. He reports that, so far, the altered elephant cells have been functioning perfectly.
Lead scientist George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard University, and his team weren’t able to synthesise the entire woolly mammoth genome, but instead selected genes that encoded particularly ‘mammoth-like’ characteristics, such as cold-busting fat, ear size, and a woolly coat.
“We prioritised genes associated with cold resistance including hairiness, ear size, subcutaneous fat and, especially haemoglobin,” Church told Ben Webster at The Sunday Times. Haemoglobin is what scientists think helped the mammoths survive such a frigid climate thousands of years ago. “We now have functioning elephant cells with mammoth DNA in them. We have not published it in a scientific journal because there is more work to do, but we plan to do so.”
If Church’s experiments go as planned, this could be the first time we see a woolly mammoth alive in more than 3,300 years. Via Mammoth DNA has been implanted into functioning elephant cells