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US researchers are planning a real mammoth project: an extinct race is to fight climate change as a hybrid

2021-09-17T14:39:43.868Z

It sounds really crazy: A US company wants to resurrect mammoths in order to counter climate change with them. Elephants are also needed for the plan.



It sounds really crazy: A US company wants to resurrect mammoths in order to counter climate change with them.

Elephants are also needed for the plan.

Munich - This news should light up many children's eyes.

In the near future, mammoths are said to be walking on earth again.

This is the goal of the US company Colossal Biosciences Inc., which is based in genetic research and has raised an impressive 15 million US dollars (the equivalent of around 12.7 million euros).


The Texans are by no means the first scientists to embrace this ambitious plan.

In the past few years the idea of ​​giving the elephant's shaggy relatives a comeback after around 10,000 years kept coming up.

But never before has such a sum been available.

Mammoths about to return?

Animals are to be used in the fight against climate change

Now, of course, the experts from the USA are not interested in collecting plus points from the next generation around the world.

Rather, the protection of the planet and the fight against climate change are in the foreground.

The gigantic animals are touted as old friends of the earth and new heroes, because "the woolly mammoth is an important defender of the earth".

During their lifetime they would have contributed to the “health of the Arctic region”.

The mammoth steppe, which once made up up to ten percent of the earth's land surface, was the largest ecosystem in the world and was "home to millions of large herbivores".

Mammoths about to return?

Genes agree with those of the Asian elephant with 99.6 percent

It goes on to say: "These animals were the key to protecting an ecosystem that was so large that it influenced, if not even controlled, the climate."

To do this, they have to be brought back to life first.

How is that supposed to work?

The structure of the DNA is known from the findings of various well-preserved specimens.

Lo and behold: genetically, mammoths and the endangered Asian elephants are 99.6 percent identical.

+

Could be about to make a spectacular comeback: The mammoths should be brought back to life - albeit out of human self-interest.

© picture alliance / dpa / Holger Hollemann

Mammoths about to return?

Hybrid should be able to live in the Arctic - the first calves maybe in six years

The researchers envision the creation of a hybrid of both species.

For this, the skin cells of elephants are to be reprogrammed accordingly.

The focus is on genes that are responsible for hair, the insulating layers of fat and adaptations to the cold climate.

Because even if the Arctic has warmed up, it's still icy there.

Much too cold for the hairless pachyderms.

The embryos with elephant and mammoth DNA are then to be carried to term via surrogate mothers or artificial wombs.

Ideally, the first hybrids could see the light of day in six years.


Mammoths about to return?

"Enjoy life at minus 40 degrees and cut down trees"

George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School who supports the mammoth project, told the

Guardian

: “Our goal is to breed a cold-resistant elephant that looks and behaves like a mammoth. It's not about outsmarting anyone. We want to create something that is functionally equivalent to the mammoth, enjoys life at minus 40 degrees and does everything that elephants and mammoths do. In particular, cut down trees. "

The company also promised about the genetically modified animals: "It will run, look and sound like a woolly mammoth, but above all be able to inhabit the same ecosystem that it once had to leave." Ten main goals are listed: This is how they should dense forests are transformed back into natural arctic grasslands, elephants are saved from extinction and the melting of arctic permafrost is slowed down.

Mammoths about to return?

"Hundreds of thousands of animals that will only be fully grown in 30 years"

But not all experts are convinced of the plans. Dr. Victoria Herridge, evolutionary biologist at the Natural History Museum, thinks the way is wrong: “The scope of this experiment would be enormous. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of mammoths, each of which takes 22 months to be pregnant and 30 years to become fully grown. "

Gareth Phoenix doesn't look at the time factor at all. Instead, it focuses on the behavior of the mammoth. The Professor of Plant Ecology and Global Change at the University of Sheffield complains: “We know that trees and moss are critical to protecting permafrost in the forested areas of the Arctic. So removing the trees and trampling the moss would be the last thing to do. ”But that is exactly what the animals would almost certainly do. Which, to a certain extent, Colossal expects from them.

Maybe the plan sounds too good to be true after all.

The Americans also emphasize that it is only a matter of theory.

But it's not just for children that these sentences are like music to the ears: “We have the DNA, the technology and the leading experts in this field.

Soon we will also have the woolly mammoth.

Alive again. "

(Mg)

List of rubric lists: © picture alliance / dpa / Holger Hollemann

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2021-09-17

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