Although they haven’t walked the Earth for around 10,500 years, the woolly mammoth may be making a triumphant return to existence—and it won’t just be for the next installment of the ‘Ice Age’ franchise. A biotech startup has set its sights on the extinct creature’s reintroduction to the planet via CRISPR technology. This ambitious project, beyond producing a once-in-a-lifetime tourist attraction, could even help stabilize the climate.
Colossus Laboratories and Biosciences, based out of Austin, has already received a groundswell of support from affluent benefactors. The Winklevoss twins, the entrepreneurial duo of Facebook origins infamy, have forked over $15 million to support this biodiversity undertaking.
CRISPR is a gene-editing procedure which positions a bacterium’s defense mechanism against viruses to insert genes into a genome located within living cells. For the mammoth “resurrection,” Colossus plans to splice genes from tissue samples into the genome of the similarly-shaped Asian elephant. Luckily, the temperature of the Russian tundra where these tissues were found has sustained their viability for thousands of years.
Mammoth genes generating cold-resistant adaptations, including smaller ears and woolier coats, will be spliced into the elephant genome and placed into an egg cell. Electricity will render this altered cell an embryo, which will be planted into a live elephant surrogate.