The woolly mammoth which was vanished from the Earth 4,000 years ago are on the brink of resurrection as scientists might soon be able to create a hybrid embryo of the ancient beast.
Speaking ahead of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Boston this week, Prof George Church, the scientist leading the “de-extinction” effort said the Harvard team is just two years away from creating a hybrid embryo, in which mammoth traits would be programmed into an Asian elephant.
This scientific achievement would be an important step towards the controversial mission to completely resurrecting the long-extinct animal. That in turn could give rise to the rebirth of a range of creatures that have died out, with only their DNA needed to bring them back to life, The Independent reported.
The woolly mammoth lived in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America during the last Ice Age, becoming extinct about 4,500 years ago - probably due to climate change and hunting by humans.
The scientists hope to be able to create an embryo with features of a mammoth, such as shaggy long hair, thick layers of fat, and cold-adapted blood. Those would be combined with the DNA of an elephant.
Our aim is to produce a hybrid elephant-mammoth embryo. Actually, it would be more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits. We’re not there yet, but it could happen in a couple of yearsProf George Church, Scientist
With years more work, that embryo could then potentially be used to grow into a living create, bringing the animal back to life.
So far, 45 mammoth-like edits of DNA have been spliced into the Asian elephant genome. “We’re working on ways to evaluate the impact of all these edits,” says Church. “The list of edits affects things that contribute to the success of elephants in cold environments. We already know about ones to do with small ears, subcutaneous fat, hair and blood.”