Colossal has $15 million in funding and has started a de-extinction project to resurrect the Woolly Mammoth – or more specifically a cold-resistant elephant with all of the core biological traits of the Woolly Mammoth. It will walk like a Woolly Mammoth, look like one, sound like one, but most importantly it will be able to inhabit the same ecosystem previously abandoned by the Mammoth’s extinction.
The Mammoth’s massive size, thunderous gait and vast migrations patterns were active benefactors in preserving the health of the Arctic region. The Mammoth Steppe was once the world’s largest ecosystem – spanning from France to Canada and the Arctic Islands to China. It was home to millions of large herbivores. And these animals were key to protecting an ecosystem so vast, it affected, if not almost controlled, the climate.
Re-establishing an ecosystem filled with grasslands will help to create a cycle that prevents the thaw and release of stored greenhouse gases within the arctic permafrost. With Mammoths grazing the grasslands and roaming comfortably during the winters, they scrape away layers of snow, so that the cold air can reach the soil. This also allows grasslands to thrive and since they’re lighter than forestry, the snow won’t melt as quickly. Making way for another benefit – a surface that reflects the Sun’s radiation.
They lived all the way up until 1650 B.C. – a relatively short period of time in biological and geological terms. The evidence is clear that humans lived among Woolly Mammoths and considered them a big part of their subsistence and habitat. Most of this evidence comes from caves across today’s countries of England, Spain and France.
Asian elephants and Mammoths share 99.6% of their DNA. This is still an enormous challenge to overcome – more possible today than ever with modern genetic engineering knowledge and technology. And the scientists at Colossal are leading the globe in research and progress into bringing the Mammoth back – closing this .4% of genome similarity through the use of CRISPR genome editing.
Mammoth remains have been preserved remarkably well, even across millennia. Many Mammoths who died never fully decayed. Tissue samples collected contain intact DNA, undigested food in Mammoth stomachs, fur, tusks and more.
CRISPR gene editing technology will be used to genetically reengineer Asian elephants to be more like mammoths. Billionaire Thomas Tull, best known for founding a film production company that backed the “Batman” movies and “Inception,” and Silicon Valley venture capital firms Breyer Capital and Draper Associates are among the backers.
The mammoth was very good at knocking down trees they can knock down a tree in about 15 seconds.
They have already returned a number of cold-adapted animals horses, musk ox and the Bison.
There were only a couple of hundred bison in the in the world and now their numbers are back up to half a million worldwide.
What would the impact of woolly mammoths be ?
They will keep the temperature of the ground very low. These animals will stomp on the snow in the winter so the 20 degrees centigrade summer temperatures can equilibrate the minus 40 degree temperature in the wind in the winter but not if you have a big thick insulating layer of snow so these herbivores will do that.
This will help trap a lot of carbon.
SOURCES -Colossal, George Church
Written by Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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