A company just raised $15m to ‘resurrect’ woolly mammoths

A genetic company wants to bring back the woolly mammoth by editing Asian elephant cells with mammoth DNA.


September 15, 2021

Most woolly mammoths died ~10k+ years ago, while a small group remained trapped on an island until ~3.7k years ago. Are they ready for a comeback?

Colossal, founded by Harvard geneticist George Church and tech entrepreneur Ben Lamm, has raised $15m to bring the woolly mammoth back from the dead, per The Guardian.

To do it, they’d:

  • Edit skin cells from Asian elephants with mammoth DNA taken from frozen specimens
  • Gestate a lab-created egg in a surrogate elephant or artificial womb, a 22-month process

The end result would be a “cold-resistant elephant” that looks and behaves like a mammoth, Church said. If all goes well, Colossal hopes to welcome its 1st calves in 6 years.

Colossal has 2 primary goals

  1. Conserve Asian elephants — which are endangered — by helping them survive in the Arctic
  2. Protect the Arctic by introducing animals that will knock down trees and restore grasslands

Other scientists aren’t so hot on the idea, arguing that mammoths take a long time to mature (30 years) and that some Arctic regions need trees. Some also question our ability to care for the new species.

Fun fact: Funding was led by Thomas Tull, ex-CEO of Legendary Entertainment, the company that produced “Jurassic World.”

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