The challenge that The American Colossal, launched on Monday, will attempt to overcome with the help of genetic manipulation techniques, is for the mammoth, a species that became extinct 4,000 years ago, to retreat to Arctic soil.
“Colossal will launch an efficient and effective extinction model and will be the first company to apply advanced genetic modification techniques to reintegrate hairy mammoths in the arctic tundra,” the company said.
Extinction, the concept of creating an animal similar to an extinct species through genetics, is not unanimous in the scientific community. Some researchers doubt its usefulness or are concerned about the risks of its application.
Colossal, created by businessman Ben Lam and geneticist George Church, will attempt to insert DNA sequences from a woolly mammoth (derived from a remains preserved in Siberian soil) into the genome of Asian elephants, to create a hybrid species. The DNA of the Asian elephant and the hairy mammoth is 99.6% similar, the company said on its website.
Colossal expects that the creation and reintroduction of these hybrid snakes into the tundra should allow “the restoration of extinct ecosystems, which could help combat and even reverse the effects of climate change.”
The modified woolly mammoth could “breathe new life into Arctic grasslands,” which the company says captures carbon dioxide and removes methane, two greenhouse gases.
The biotech company was able to raise $15 million in private funding to reach its goal, which some experts have questioned. “There will be a lot of problems with this process,” biologist Beth Shapiro told the New York Times. “This is not extinction. There will never be a giant on Earth again. If it succeeds, it will be a fictional elephant, a completely new and genetically modified organism.” Tori Heridge, biologist and paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London. wrote on Twitter.
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