Scientists are coming closer to being potentially able to resurrect extinct wholly mammoths through cloning (using mammoth DNA in elephant eggs) and–to keep animal rights activists off their backs–gestation in artificial wombs instead of female elephants.
From the Popular Science story:
Using a DNA editing tool called CRISPR, the scientists spliced genes for the mammoths’ small ears, subcutaneous fat, and hair length and color into the DNA of elephant skin cells. The tissue cultures represent the first time woolly mammoth genes have been functional since the species went extinct around 4,000 years ago.
The next step will be to try and make mammoth embryos through cloning:
If those tests go well, the team hopes to turn the elephant/mammoth skin cells into hybrid embryos that can be grown in artificial wombs, devices that allow for pregnancies outside of an animal’s uterus.
Artificial wombs are pretty speculative at this point, but the alternative–implanting the hybrids into the wombs of female elephants–is unsavory to animal rights activists as well as geneticists. “It’s going to be more humane and easier if we can set up hundreds of [embryos] in an incubator and run tests,” says Church.
That is the same process that will be required to perfect human cloning.
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