The woolly mammoth one of the closest ancestor of todays elephants.
Woolly mammoths, which had significant populations in the northern hemisphere during the pre-glacial period, went extinct due to hunting and the climate change. According to experts, warmer atmosphere due to the end of the ice age shrank the habitat of these giants. And although the creature went extinct thousands of years ago, scientists are now trying to artificially create this elephant-like mammal through cloning. A team of researchers at Harvard University believe they could bring back the woolly mammoth from extinction within the next two years.
They believe that advances in gene cloning science will allow them to make what just a few years ago would have been considered an impossibility that is to bring a species back from extinction. They have been studying the DNA from frozen mammoths found preserved in the Arctic. Specifically, they’ve been looking for genes that separated them from elephants.
Mammoth DNA was obtained from Siberian permafrost specimens. The DNA helped them to recreate 14 genes of the mammoth after rigorous analysis. Sophisticated technique of ‘clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat ‘allowed them to edit DNA in such a way that modern DNA was manipulated to replace prehistoric genes. The Asian elephant, closest living species to mammoth as per the gene map was chosen for the experiment.
Elephant cells are fully functioning now with mammoth DNA. Scientists by splicing mammoth DNA into the genome of an elephant embryo believe they can create a mammoth-elephant hybrid. Then grow it within an artificial womb.The resultant creature would be more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits than a mammoth. As awesome as playing Ice Age Jurassic Park sounds, there are also other preventative applications for this technology for engineering the DNA of rapidly declining species or those that are becoming too inbred to increase their chance of survival.
Many scientific commentators have termed this process as a part of ‘De-Extinction’. The scientists at Harvard also believe that the 'new' woolly mammoth can help for the betterment of ecology in Siberia.