Animals like dinosaurs and saber-toothed tigers have been lost to the machinations of time. Sure, it’ occasionally our fault — as was the case with those poor, unfortunate Dodo birds — but time has taught man not to play God and let the dead stay dead… until now.
Harvard University scientists are trying to create a Woolly Mammoth embryo, in order to partially bring back the great beast that died out during the last Ice Age. The embryo would not be a pure mammoth, mind you, but would be a hybrid with the creature’s closest living relative — the Asian elephant.
“Our aim is to produce a hybrid elephant-mammoth embryo,” researcher George Church explained to The Guardian. “Actually, it would be more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits.”
The process involves retrieving DNA from mammoth remains preserved on the frozen tundra, then splicing that DNA into the genome of an Asian elephant. Reportedly, the two beasts, who share a common ancestor, could breed if they both survived into the modern world.
As with most attempts to play God, there have been multiple critics. First of all, the ability to even partially reverse extinction might undermine efforts to save endangered animals — especially since the clones would be hybrids and not true members of the lost species. Secondly, it might be unethical to create an animal in artificial wombs, depriving it of maternal care.
That said, Church went on to explain that there might be a benefit to raising the dead. You may have wondered just what the hell the researchers plan on doing with these glorified Snuffleupaguses once they hatch. Well, they plan to introduce them to the barren regions of Canada and Russia, in the hopes that they will save mankind from global warming.
According to Church, “Mammoths could keep the region colder by: (a) eating dead grass, thus enabling the sun to reach spring grass, whose deep roots prevent erosion; (b) increasing reflected light by felling trees, which absorb sunlight; and (c) punching through insulating snow so that freezing air penetrates the soil. Poachers seem far less likely to target Arctic mammoths than African elephants.”
The technology might be able to bring back the mammoth as early as in two years. And remember, if we somehow get a second chance with the dodos, please don’t introduce any pigs, dogs, or monkeys to areas they live in, since those poor bastards just weren’t used to predators. Despite popular belief, their bodies’ oil content made them inedible to humans, so we did not actually hunt them to extinction, although that does bring up the moral dilemma of whether Canadians might be interested in some mammoth steaks.