MAY PREHISTORY THUNDER FORWARD.
We have the DNA,the technology and the leading experts in the field. Next, we will have the Woolly Mammoth. Alive again.
Colossal’s landmark de-extinction project will be the resurrection of the Woolly Mammoth - or more specifically a cold-resistant elephant with all of the core biological traits of the Woolly Mammoth. It will walk like a Woolly Mammoth, look like one, sound like one, but most importantly it will be able to inhabit the same ecosystem previously abandoned by the Mammoth’s extinction.
And this core value cannot be overstated:
The Woolly Mammoth is a vital defender of the earth.
Mammoth De-Extinction: Restoring The Past For A Better Future
Ending extinction to advance the genetic future of humankind and the health of the planet starts with thinking beyond what people think is impossible. See what we’re doing at Colossal Biosciences today to rewrite history tomorrow.
The Woolly Mammoth is a cold-resistant herbivore mammal. Meaning it’s a warm-blooded creature that can survive in freezing temperatures. It was large and slow moving, with short compact ears to prevent heat loss, insulated by two layers of thick fur to keep the blood warm, along by staying rather active and consistent with its migration and foraging activities.
Among large herbivore mammals, the Woolly Mammoth is primarily recognized by its two large inverted, curling tusks that it used to dig and locate food. Much like a tree, but with far greater detail, scientists can age Mammoths based on the number of rings present in a cross-section view of the tusks - even down to the number of weeks and days, and in what the weather was like when the animal died. In addition to the tusks, Mammoths had four massive molars employed in the mastication of the dense plant matter that comprised its diet. Throughout the life of a Mammoth, these molars would grow and be replaced up to six times.
Another unique feature of the Mammoth are big, soft clumps along the upper ridges of their back - similar in position to those of a camel, but not as large. These clumps however were filled with fat to help keep the animal both insulated and energized during long, frigid months in largely barren landscapes.
It’s no secret that elephant populations around the globe are in danger.
“If you think about the most important headline of the 20th century, unquestionably it was humans landing on the moon. In the 21st century, bringing an extinct species back to life would hold similar weight in the history of humanity. It is hard to imagine a more profound project than the de-extinction of species once considered lost forever.”
Greater biodiversity and healthier ice reserves provide evidence that the Earth was in a far better environmental state at the time of the Woolly Mammoth. Without human intervention, there was no artificial pollution, no land degradation resulting from a mass expansion of destructive agriculture practices, natural resources still in abundance, an absence of overhunting, overfishing, poaching and more.
A key factor was also the presence of a thriving Mammoth Steppe, comprised of flourishing arctic and tundra regions. These landscapes were vast and responsible for playing a balancing role in the planet’s overall state.
The Mammoth’s massive size, thunderous gait and vast migration patterns were active benefactors in preserving the health of the Arctic region. The Mammoth Steppe was once the world’s largest ecosystem - spanning from France to Canada and the Arctic Islands to China. It was home to millions of large herbivores. And these animals were key to protecting an ecosystem so vast, it affected, if not almost controlled, the climate.
The loss of these large cold-tolerant Mammoths over the past 10,000 years has stripped this ecosystem of the grasslands that once efficiently absorbed carbon. Instead, there are mossy forests and wetlands, which aren’t as helpful with combating rising temperatures. However, if the Mammoth Steppe ecosystem could be revived, it could help in reversing the rapid warming of the climate and more pressingly, protect the arctic’s permafrost - one of the world’s largest carbon reservoirs.
Re-establishing an ecosystem filled with grasslands will help to create a cycle that prevents the thaw and release of stored greenhouse gases within the arctic permafrost. With cold-tolerant elephant mammoth hybrids grazing the grasslands and roaming comfortably during the winters, they scrape away layers of snow, so that the cold air can reach the soil. This also allows grasslands to thrive and since they’re lighter than forestry, the snow won’t melt as quickly. Making way for another benefit - a surface that reflects the Sun’s radiation.
The fundamental conclusion to be reached is quite simple: the Woolly Mammoth was a natural custodian of a healthier planet.
In reality, they lived all the way up until 1650 B.C. - a relatively short period of time in biological and geological terms. The evidence is clear that humans lived among Woolly Mammoths and considered them a big part of their subsistence and habitat. Most of this evidence comes from caves across today’s countries of England, Spain and France.
The most notable example of Mammoth and human interaction was found (and is still preserved) inside the Rouffignac cave, located in a mountainous area of southwestern France. Inside the cave, known as the Cave of a Hundred Mammoths, are more than 250 paintings and depictions along the cave walls, etched into the stone by humans who called the cave home during the Middle Magdalenian, Mesolithic, Tardenoisian, Sauveterrian and Neolithic periods. Also found inside the cave are Mammoth bones and tusks fashioned into a number of uses including tools, art objects, furniture and burial items.
Thus it is clear that humans and Mammoths lived amongst each other, and perhaps that humans relied on the Mammoth as part of their equation for survival. It is also quite clear, however, that humans (and Neanderthals) helped to bring out the eventual extinction of this important neighbor. There is evidence that humans harvested Mammoths as a source of protein, used their tusks for art and other luxuries, and employed their bones and tusks in the construction of dwelling structures. Given their massive size and slow reproductive rates many believe that human hunting was one of a few major causes of the Mammoth’s extinction.
Along with humans, natural climate changes caused a shrinking of the Mammoth’s available living habitat spaces. The animal was basically being geologically sequestered by the Earth, forced to live in tighter areas of land. This caused the genetic pool to shrink and problems related to inbreeding eventually began to occur. Eventually, the planet’s Mammoth population was reduced to two small communes of about 500 to 1,000 each - one on St. Paul Island just off the southwest coast of Alaska; the other Wrangel Island, off the northeast tip Russia. The Wrangel Island Mammoths existed up until about 4,000 years ago and disappeared quite suddenly, with evidence pointing to a human hunting expedition as the likely cause.
Evolution is a slow-moving beast. The changes in protein pairing of any specific genome take millennia after millenia to manifest. Thus, while the Woolly Mammoth is not currently stomping its way across the tundra, the animal’s code is in fact almost 100% still alive in today’s Asian elephants. Precisely, the two mammals share a 99.6% similar DNA makeup. While this may seem like a small number, it’s still an enormous challenge to overcome - more possible today than ever with modern genetic engineering knowledge and technology. And the scientists at Colossal are leading the globe in research and progress into bringing the Mammoth back - closing this .4% of genome similarity through the use of CRISPR genome editing.
The answers to these questions are quite simple, even though the science behind them is quite complex. Firstly, Mammoth remains have been preserved remarkably well, even across millennia. Thanks to its habitat in the permafrost, tundra and frozen steppe regions, many Mammoths who died never fully decayed - instead staying sealed in ice for later discovery. Thus the tissue samples collected contain intact DNA, undigested food in Mammoth stomachs, fur, tusks and more.
The world’s leading Woolly Mammoth advocate and top genetic engineering scientist, especially regarding CRISPR - the mechanism that will ultimately lead to the first Woolly Mammoth back on Earth, in the last 4,000 years.
>Michael Crichton (HMS'69) Writes "Jurassic Park" ('dino' DNA featured in Jurassic Park book actually was E.coli DNA that George Church analyzed in 1978).
Nicholas Wade of NY Times writes the first article about bringing back mammoths through genetic engineering.
Colossal Biosciences - The De-Extinction company launches from stealth to solve de-extinction.
Stewart Brand: The Dawn of De-Extinction. Are You Ready?
Throughout humankind's history, we've driven species after species extinct: the passenger pigeon, the Eastern cougar, the dodo, etc.
But now, Co-Founder of Revive & Restore Stewart Brand says we have the technology (and the biology) to bring back species that humanity wiped out. So -- should we? Which ones? He asks a big question whose answer is closer than you may think.
For more information on the R&D behind the Woolly Mammoth :
"Bring back the Woolly Mammoth! Colossal will be the first company to use CRISPR technology to de-extinct previously lost species starting with the Mammoth. In the de-extinction process Colossal will build world-class software products for CRISPR and their breakthroughs will have major implications for biotechnology products, treatment of diseases, and genomics."
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