Nearly 10 millennia since the last of the woolly mammoths walked the Earth, a scientific research firm is hoping to bring back the extinct beast, and it just received a mammoth amount of funding to do just that.
On Monday, the bioscience and genetics company Colossal raised over $15 million to bring some seriousness to the conversation about resurrecting one of the largest creatures to ever live on Earth.
The company, founded by Ben Lamm, a technology entrepreneur, and George Church, a professor of genetics and gene editing trailblazer at Harvard Medical School, seeks to create a elephant-mammoth hybrid creature by using DNA from mammoth embryos in a lab, and combining them with skin cells from Asian elephants.
Researchers are utilizing the endangered Asian elephant due to its similar DNA composition to its mammoth descendants. The two share similar genes for their hair, fat layers and other adaptation characteristics.
Embryos carrying these hybrid animals would be placed in a surrogate mother or could potentially be carried to term in an artificial womb.
Barring any unforeseen hiccups, scientists are hoping to have their first set of cables within six years, according to The Guardian.
“Our goal is to make a cold-resistant elephant, but it is going to look and behave like a mammoth,” Church said. “Not because we are trying to trick anybody, but because we want something that is functionally equivalent to the mammoth, that will enjoy its time at -40C, and do all the things that elephants and mammoths do, in particular knocking down trees”
The point of the mammoth resurrection is not to bring back an animal from the history books, but rather to provide the Asian elephants with more tools to survive in the area of the Arctic known as the mammoth steppe.
The mammoth-elephant hybrid is also another way scientists are looking to tackle climate change. By introducing these newly concocted animals into the Arctic tundra, scientists hope that they will help resurrect damaged areas of the ecosystem.