Dinosaurs - no longer extinct?
Is a Dinosaur Park about to become a reality?
800,000 years ago woolly mammoths roamed the earth. They were thought to go extinct around 4000 years ago. They were around 2.5 to 3.5 metres high, weighing between 7 and 15 tonnes. Mammoths had much larger tusks, smaller ears and had thick fur to help keep them warm in the ice and snow.
In comparison modern day African elephants are around 2.5 to 3metres high and weigh 4 to 6 tonnes.
A company has been launched to try to restore the Woolly Mammoth to the Arctic.
Why do they want to restore the Woolly Mammoth?
It's claimed that woolly mammoths will help to fight climate change by restoring the vast grassland which used to be on the Arctic circle, but changed to forest when the mammoth went extinct.
Scientists believe if they are successful, they believe they could rebuild ecosystems to combat global warming. They believe the Woolly Mammoths helped maintain the permafrost when they roamed around the arctic and stamped the snow into hardened ice.
How do they plan to do it?
Even though several Woolly Mammoth fossils have been recovered, the DNA and full Genome had degraded due to time and freezing over time.
Scientists have studied modern DNA and genome and believe they can take the DNA and Genome from an Asian elephant to be able to change specific genes to make a Woolly Mammoth.
So in fact they would not be resurrecting the Woolly Mammoth, they would be creating a modern hybrid that they hope would be almost like the Woolly Mammoth.
They would be taking the Genome of an Asian Elephant and looking for the genes they would need to change. Like making it have long thick fur, smaller ears, longer tusks etc.
It may take several attempts or even elephant generations to be able to create the required genes.
What is Gene, DNA and Genome?
It is actually more technical and involved, but think of this a very brief idea of an explanation BOL!
A Gene is a DNA sequence needed to make brown eyes etc. A living being would have a whole load of Genes or DNA sequences for every part of them. The Genome is the full list of Genes required to make a whole living thing.
Just because they can, should they?
The ethical side of starting this is potentially dotted with questions at every level. I would like to think that because they are scientists they will investigate all of the moral and logistical problems and solve them before trying to create the new Woolly Mammoth.
Scientists believe if they are successful, perhaps other extinct species could be brought back to also help rebuild ecosystems to combat global warming.
Or even the species that were made extinct by humans.