It’s 2021 so it’s about dang time we got our first company focused on species de-extinction. Colossal, a new company of scientists and entrepreneurs (can’t have companies without ‘em) has announced their goal to bring species back from extinction using gene editing, and they are starting with the woolly mammoth. The creature went extinct 10,000 years ago, but the bioscientists and geneticists behind the new company think they can bring it back….sort of.
“This is a major milestone for us,” George Church told The New York Times. Church is a biologist and one of the company founders. “It’s going to make all the difference in the world.”
Here’s how it works: Basically the same way it did in Jurassic Park. I mean no, it’s way more complicated than what Mr. DNA could explain in a 5 minute presentation, but the basic principle is the same. Colossal will splice ancient DNA with modern living elephants to rebuild the lost creatures.
So it’s not like a magic spell where a woolly mammoth comes outta nowhere. But, they will have a cold-resistant, elephant-mammoth hybrid that has the basic traits of the woolly mammoth and can inhabit the same ecosystem its ancestor did.
— Colossal (@ItIsColossal) September 23, 2021
Ultimately, the company thinks they can get thousands of their hairy, tusky cold-weather elephants back onto the frozen tundra of Siberia. The reason for the whole experiment isn’t to just play mad scientist, though. Introducing these animals back into the ecosystem can help reverse certain conditions of climate change, by restoring balance to the ecosystem. Okay, they’re probably a little bit into playing mad scientist, but it’s still about saving the world, not taking it over atop a herd of ancient horned beasts.
There are bigger implications as well. We could bring back species that we thought were gone forever. That’s hugely important as so many current species face extinction and have seen their numbers dwindling over the past centuries. Of course, any time you even open the door to de-extinction, people go straight to dinosaurs. No scientist is bringing up dinos at this point. But, as any dad knows, you gotta crawl before you can walk, so maybe this is just the first step to the de-extinction process, and a decade or two from now we could kick-start our own Jurassic Park.
For now, the scientists at the new company are VERY focused on whether or not they can, and definitely not about whether or not they SHOULD.