Jurassic Park has already warned us of the dangers of reviving extinct species. However, one company, Colossal Laboratories & Biosciences, wants Create a Woolly Mammoth / Asian Elephant Hybrid. This raises many unknowns, from how it can be done to whether it is ethical to give life to these future embryos. Animal de-extinction might be closer than we think, right?
But let’s start at the beginning of this story. Just a few days ago, Colossal Laboratories & Biosciences heralded his peculiar idea of creating a “cold-resistant elephant with all fundamental biological traits of the woolly mammoth“The researchers point out, among other things, that it can help advance genetic engineering, according to The Washington Post.
The process to create a mammoth
The company is clear about the process to create a first mammoth; later, probably more will come. The process involves edit Asian elephant DNA by inserting woolly mammoth traits. Afterwards, a hybrid embryo of woolly mammoth and Asian elephant will be created, in a similar way as was done with Dolly the sheep. In reality, the end result will not be exactly a woolly mammoth; but it will be quite similar.
Colossal Laboratories & Biosciences has received an investment of 15 million dollars
After the embryo is created, it is planned to be implanted into a African elephant. The pregnancy, if successful, will last about two years. And then we’ll have the closest thing to a woolly mammoth we’ve seen in thousands of years. Let’s not forget these mammals became extinct in Europe around 12,000 years ago.
The process seems simple; but it won’t be. For this entire project, Colossal Laboratories & Biosciences has received an investment of $ 15 million (around 12.75 million euros). But when will we see the mammoth? In principle, the company wants to have a first calf within six years, although they recognize that it is a somewhat optimistic deadline.
Is it ethical?
The idea of Colossal Laboratories & Biosciences is not to stay in the woolly mammoth; pretending to give life, as if it were Dr. Frankenstein, to a (long) list of extinct animals with the idea of maintain ecosystems that could disappear with climate change. However, one thing is what this company wants and, quite another, what it can achieve by adding extinct animals to current ecosystems. And this is where the opinion of ethicists is so important.
For there to be a true environmental impact, a large herd of woolly mammoths would be necessary, according to The Washington Post. Christopher preston, Professor of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy at the University of Montana. And it is that there are other forms of conservation that have already been tested and that need funding: “We should make sure that these receive enough resources, instead of divert attention by the distraction of a project like de-extinction, “said the professor.” It is very difficult for me to think that the idea of being able to de-extinguish a woolly mammoth is a technological solution for anything that needs a solution in the next century. “
Scientific development vs. ethics
For its part, Paul thompson, holder of the WK Kellogg Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University; He pointed out to The Washington Post that research like this can help develop and advance science. However, this idea of creating woolly mammoths also seems frivolous.
Therefore, it seems that in this case creating a mammoth could help scientific advancement. However, letting the embryos grow may not be the best option. A deeper bioethical analysis might be necessary to finish making a decision.
Ultimately, getting a woolly mammoth / Asian elephant hybrid can help develop genetic engineering and move us forward in this field of science. However, it still remains to fine tune the why do it. It seems that to maintain ecosystems and avoid climate change a couple of mammoths are not enough. Only time will tell what the idea of this company is. For the moment, there is still a lot of research to do for their part before making the decision of whether to go ahead with the embryos that they manage to create or not. But let’s not forget what happened to the dinosaurs in a certain movie.