If science fiction has taught us anything over the years, it’s that there stands an inherent danger whenever humankind decides to play God. And yet the temptation to seek progress, to satiate curiosity, and gain knowledge is often too strong to ignore. Sometimes, these desires can lead to some truly fascinating innovations. And, depending on who you ask, worrisome ones.
It was recently reported that a new company by the name of Colossal, reported by Complex to have been founded by scientists and entrepreneurs, has set its sights on reviving the long-extinct Wooly Mammoth.
Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images
A majestic creature that has long intrigued Ice Age aficionados of all ages, the Wooly Mammoth is said to have gone extinct up to ten thousand years ago. Now, Colossal has amassed fifteen million dollars in private funding to bring the great beast back to life, their first step in an ambitious attempt to end extinction.
While this may sound like a Jurassic Park sequel and/or reboot, it appears that there are several brilliant minds at the center of the project. A report from Stat News highlights the words of “Harvard scientist and DNA sequencing pioneer George Church,” who offered up a few thoughts on the undertaking. “This is a major milestone for us,” he says, speaking on the multi-million dollars worth of funding. “It’s going to make all the difference in the world.”
With experiments being conducted at laboratories in Boston and Dallas, one of the first major experiments will consist of “editing” existing elephant DNA in the hopes of being able to closely mirror that of the Mammoth. In time, the goal would be to produce an embryo of a Mammoth-esque elephant, with Colossal projecting that a calf could theoretically be born within a six-year timeframe.
Jean-Marc ZAORSKI / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
But that’s not the endgame — as stated on the company’s website, Colossal one day hopes to see “To see the Woolly Mammoth thunder upon tundra once again.” They also note the positive impact that herds of Mammoth could have on the Arctic Tundra. “By knocking down dark, sunlight-absorbing trees,” explains the Stat News report, “Mammoths, (or even cold-adapted elephants) would transform the tundra into light-reflecting grassland that keeps the ground colder, locking in the methane and creating a lot of plant matter to lock up carbon, too.”
Overall, it’s likely that the pursuit of bringing back the Wooly Mammoth will elicit both cautious optimism and general wariness from skeptics. Lest we forget about the lessons instilled by years of science fiction — including the aforementioned Jurassic Park, which highlighted the dangers of experimenting with prehistoric creatures. Still, it will certainly be interesting to see what the team at Colossal is able to do with a $15 million dollar budget and one hell of a dream– do you think they will succeed in their mission to end extinction as we know it?