We Could See The Return Of A Certain Prehistoric Creature In Our Lifetime

The proposed ice age creature is the woolly mammoth. Colossal hopes to revive it as soon as 2027, and it would be less of a clone and more of a genetic hybrid made possible with CRISPR-Cas9 DNA splicing technology, according to NPR. Theoretically, once mammoth DNA is genetically spliced with the Asian elephant — the mammoth’s closest living relative — the embryo would then develop and end with the natural birth of a mammoth that would then return to its former habitat. To handle the numbers needed to establish a stable breeding population, artificial mammoth uteruses will likely be necessary, based on The New York Times report. Larger Asian elephants may also serve as surrogates.

An herbivore, woolly mammoths are known to have primarily lived in steppe tundra ecosystems across Eurasia and North America and some forested parts of the modern-day U.S. midwest (per Britannica). It’s in the Eurasian area that Colossal thinks reintroduced woolly mammoths might have the most positive effect on climate change. The proposal raises many ethical and logistical questions, and there’s little certainty about what might happen if Colossal is successful. Speaking with The New York Times, London School of Economics philosopher Heather Browning said, “You don’t have a mother for a species that — if they are anything like elephants — has extraordinarily strong mother-infant bonds that last for a very long time. Once there is a little mammoth or two on the ground, who is making sure that they’re being looked after?”