At that time, researchers were learning how to reconstruct the genome of extinct species based on fragments of DNA recovered from fossils. It has become possible to pinpoint the genetic differences that distinguish ancient species from modern cousins and begin to understand how those DNA differences produced differences in their bodies.
Dr. Church, best known for inventing methods for reading and editing DNA, wondered if rewriting the genes of living relatives could effectively restore extinct species. I did. Since Asian elephants and mammoths share a common ancestor that lived about 6 million years ago, Dr. Church wondered if the elephant’s genome could be modified to create something that looks like a mammoth. rice field.
Beyond scientific curiosity, he argued that the resurrected mammoth could help the environment. Today, the tundra in Siberia and North America, where animals were once grazing, are rapidly warming and emitting carbon dioxide. “Mammoths are virtually the solution to this,” Dr. Church insisted in his talk.
Today, tundra are dominated by moss. But when the mammoth was, it was mostly grasslands. Some researchers claim that mammoths are ecosystem engineers who maintain grasslands by crushing moss, killing trees, and fertilizing dung.
Russian ecologists have imported Bison and other species into a Siberian reserve named Praistozeno Park in hopes of returning the tundra to the grasslands. Dr. Church argued that the resurrected mammoth could do this more efficiently. He argued that the restored grassland could prevent the soil from melting and eroding, and even trap carbon dioxide, which traps heat.
Dr. Church’s proposal received a lot of media attention, but little more than $ 100,000 was funded by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. Dr. Church’s lab piggybacked mammoth research on other, more funded experiments. “This toolset can be used for many purposes, whether it’s annihilation or the recoding of the human genome,” said Dr. Hysolli.
Analyzing the mammoth genome collected from fossils, Dr. Hysolli and her colleagues created a list of the most important differences between animals and elephants. They focused on 60 genes that suggest that their experiments are important for the characteristic traits of the mammoth, such as hair, fat, and the characteristic dome-shaped skull of the mammoth.