Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Resurrection of the Woolly Mammoth

Resurrection of the Woolly Mammoth

Harvard scientists recently announced that they are merely two years away from creating the “mammophant”, a woolly mammoth and Asian elephant hybrid. The Asian elephant is the extinct creature’s closest living relative. The team has used CRISPR/Cas-9 technology to edit 45 individual mammoth genes from a well-preserved carcass found in Siberia in 2013. The team plans to “mammoth-ify” an Asian elephant genome and eventually create a fetus that will be grown in an artificial womb. Many experts agree that this feat cannot be completed in just two years.



The de-extinction of the woolly mammoth also poses some ethical questions. How will other elephants react to it? Where would the mammoth live? Elephants are very social animals, so will there be other resurrected mammoths or will it be living among Asian elephants? Artificial womb technology likely won’t be possible this decade, and putting an endangered species at risk by impregnating it is unethical. Another issue with reviving an extinct species is that it downplays the importance of protecting endangered species. The biggest question I have is why even do this? Just to prove that it is possible? It will be interesting to hear more as the Harvard team continues with this project!


Posted by Sierra Tyrol (3)

Sources: http://bigthink.com/paul-ratner/woolly-mammoths-could-soon-be-back-from-extinction-claim-harvard-scientists

http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2017/0216/We-can-clone-a-woolly-mammoth.-But-should-we

Image: https://medium.com/@johnhawks/how-mammoth-cloning-became-fake-news-1e3a80e54d42#.6zhgqgfwm

5 comments:

  1. This is very interesting considering the possibility of creating a wholly mammoth! I actually was introduced to this risk in my evolution class and thought how complicated and complex the genetic process would be to successfully re-create this animal. As you mentioned, there are many issues revolving around this and even the motivation behind it. I wonder if there have been any success behind the CRISPR technology or any new discoveries behind the artificial womb technology! It would be awesome to see a wholly mammoth in real life rather than just its bones and pictures in the museums ! haha :)

    Posted by Angela Driscoll (group a)

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  2. Unlike Angela, I had no idea we were even trying to bring back the woolly mammoth! To me, this seems impossible. Will we eventually breed the hybrids with more hybrids and try to isolate the woolly mammoth genes to make the offspring become more and more similar to the "real woolly mammoth"? Also, I feel like although this would be amazing, isn't this kind of playing god? Is it right to bring back a species that is meant to be extinct? Either way, if this does occur, the breakthrough would be unbelievable.

    Posted by Caitlin Lohr

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    1. I agree with your comment that bringing back the woolly mammoth seems impossible. I also think that a lot of news websites are giving the impression that it is possible to recreate a woolly mammoth from DNA, when in reality they are creating a hybrid creature. I don't think it is ethical to bring back an animal that is extinct. I mean, it is extinct for a reason, right?

      Posted by Sierra Tyrol

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  3. This is a topic I have an issue with. It just doesn't make much sense to bring back an animal that went extinct. Maybe it would make sense to try to bring back an animal that went extinct due to industrialization and human impact. But the wooly mammoth went extinct 10,000 years ago! It seems selfish and wrong to bring this creature back especially into a world where that is deteriorating before our eyes and animals are still going extinct every year. I am impressed that we have the ability to do this but I don't think it is necessary.

    Posted by Taylor Irwin

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    1. I totally agree that it doesn't make sense to bring back an animal that went extinct not due to human causes. I worry that the hybrid won't be able to fit in with the Asian elephants and in a way it does seem to be like the scientists are playing god. But, artificial womb technology is not ready yet and the scientists still have a long way to go with collecting mammoth genes. So we'll just have to see what happens!

      Posted by Sierra Tyrol

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