Startup company co-founded by Harvard geneticist lands $15 million in funding to resurrect the woolly mammoth by 2027 — raising major scientific and ethical questions.
George Church, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School. [YouTube Screenshots/Fair Use/Credit: Motherboard]

Harvard geneticist George Church co-founded a startup company with a lofty goal — to resurrect the extinct woolly mammoth.

His company, aptly named, Colossal, aims to use procured woolly mammoth DNA to create a hybridized Asian elephant that could survive freezing Arctic environments.

Colossal’s ultimate goal is to terraform patches of today’s mossy tundras into grassy steppes similar to the ones from the Pleistocene epoch, using these hybrid animals.

Some scientists hypothesize that this reversal could reduce future climate change at large scales by slowing the thaw of Arctic permafrost.

The biotechnology concept of cloning extinct or endangered animal species is not new.

In fact, researchers successfully cloned an endangered Ibex species in 2009, though the clone died a few minutes later.

Don’t expect fantastical sci-fi animals to arrive soon. Even on the company’s most optimistic timeline, Church said that hybrid Wolly mammoth calves are at least 6+ years away.

Colossal’s mission statement raises many questions about how biotech companies should conduct themselves and how they should be used to address the extinction crisis affecting millions of endangered animals.

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