A new genetic manipulation company was born with a single, gigantic purpose: to save elephants from extinction and revive the extinct woolly mammoth.
Genetics company wants to revive the woolly mammoth
Colossal – whose name could not be more appropriate for the goal – was founded by geneticist George Church and entrepreneur Ben Lamm.
With an initial investment of $15 million, it aims to revive mammoths through controversial gene editing.
The idea has been in development by Church for years and Colossal, as a company, will allow the project to move forward faster, as it will have more resources at hand. According to Colossal, the scientific and technological part is already solved and now it is just a matter of scaling up the initiative.
“The mammoth is almost an elephant,” says Colossal’s website. The company comments that the Asian elephant is the animal that shares the most genes with the mammoth and that both coexisted at the same time.
However, the African elephant was chosen to revive the mammoth for several reasons. One of them is that it is a species less threatened by extinction than the Asian elephant. And because they are larger, it is less difficult to obtain a hybrid elephant by inseminating an African pachyderm with an embryo from its Asian relative.
Colossal claims it will have the first live mammoth calves in six years, which sounds overly optimistic, even for a project like this. And if the mammoth were to inhabit the Earth as before, climate change could be reduced, as these animals would help keep the Arctic ecosystem in good shape.
Beyond the good intentions, everything Colossal says it is capable of seems like science fiction, as the project is very similar to the premise of Jurassic Park: taking DNA from extinct animals and using the genes of their present-day close relatives to develop them. In Michael Crichton’s work that did not have a good ending and it is difficult to think that this project will have a different destiny.