Wooly Mammoth Genes Slipped Into Elephant DNA

Fanghawk

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Wooly Mammoth Genes Slipped Into Elephant DNA

Harvard University scientists just proved elephant and wooly mammoth DNA can be combined - a discovery that might lead to resurrecting the species.

There's no practical reason to have <a href=http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/124439-Wooly-Mammoth-Blood-Found-in-Siberia>a wooly mammoth wander snowy plains these days, but it's pretty clear geneticists won't rest until they've cloned <a href=http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/126488-Wooly-Mammoth-Clones-a-Possibility>at least a small herd. And according to a report in The Sunday Times, that reality is closer than you think. Scientists recently managed to insert 14 mammoth genes into the live DNA of a modern elephant, which could create hybrid elephants capable of living in colder climates.

The project was completed at Harvard University, where geneticists working with Asian elephant skin cells tried to make the species more resistant to cold. "We prioritized genes associated with cold resistance including hairiness, ear size, subcutaneous fat and, especially, hemoglobin," Harvard scientists George Church explained. With the genes selected, Church used the CRISPR technique (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat) to effectively copy-paste the mammoth material into the elephant DNA.

Now, that doesn't mean we have wooly mammoths just yet. In fact, we don't even have a really hairy elephant. What we do have are elephant cells that function normally with mammoth DNA inserted into them. In the long term, Church and his team hope to create elephant/mammoth embryos that will be raised as elephants in colder climates - meaning they can expand into regions away from human settlements.

But as <a href=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkWeMvrNiOM>the great Jeff Goldblum reminds us, it probably won't stop there. If successful, the next logical step is to resurrect wooly mammoths - a species that has been extinct for 4000 years. It's not as impressive as pulling a T-Rex from a sap-covered mosquito perhaps, but it's still very cool. (No pun intended.)

Source: <a href=http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/Science/article1534517.ece?CMP=OTH-gnws-standard-2015_03_21>The Sunday Times, via <a href=http://news.discovery.com/animals/woolly-mammoth-genes-inserted-into-elephant-cells-150325.htm>Discovery

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JoJo

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That's 14 genes according to the original source, not 14 genomes. But yeah, I imagine it wouldn't even be that hard to create Mammoth-like elephant compared to most extinct creatures, just get an elephant to grow long woolly hair and you'd be halfway there already.
 

Fanghawk

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JoJo said:
That's 14 genes according to the original source, not 14 genomes. But yeah, I imagine it wouldn't even be that hard to create Mammoth-like elephant compared to most extinct creatures, just get an elephant to grow long woolly hair and you'd be halfway there already.
Correct - should be fixed now.
 

Dimitriov

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But the real question is how long before I can try eating a genuine mammoth steak?
 

Steven Herrera

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It won't be long before poachers kill the mammoths for their tusks. I'm sure there will be a high price to be paid by big game / big money safari hunters. This is the unfortunate truth about what will happen. It is great that science will be able to resurrect these long gone beasts. I wonder if their instincts to avoid human contact will kick in since it was probably humans who pushed them into extinction in the first place.
 

Evil Smurf

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008Zulu said:
I wonder what these cold resistant elephants would eat, in the frozen north, where there are no trees.
Bears, everyone know that scientists won't stop unless they can make carnivorous mammoths.
 

Raggedstar

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Dimitriov said:
But the real question is how long before I can try eating a genuine mammoth steak?
I can't answer it exactly, but quite a long time. No one should expect this to go as quickly as, say, cloning dogs or mice. IF it's successful and is carried to term, it takes 22 months for the calf to be born. If the calf survives and grows up, tack on another 12 years or so until that baby can breed, and the cycle continues. But the good thing is you have plenty of time to grab a few lottery tickets, and eventually you can be a billionaire. Then you can put your entire fortune towards buying that first mammoth steak and have it for your last meal when you're an old man on your death bed :p

On a more serious note, we're also experimenting with a potentially deadly, endangered, intelligent, multi-ton momma, so who knows how long it'll take before successful attempts happen. Even if we assume the elephant is well-trained, you're still dealing with one of the most dangerous animals on Earth (who would likely snap you in half if you try to take away her baby). Large animals also have their own risks with anesthesia and recovery due to the weight of their body. It's why many surgeries on horses and cows have them standing.
 

FalloutJack

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008Zulu said:
I wonder what these cold resistant elephants would eat, in the frozen north, where there are no trees.
Moose. Those antler'd bastards will run at anything that moves. Bought time they were taken down a notch in nature.
 

Recusant

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Raggedstar said:
Dimitriov said:
But the real question is how long before I can try eating a genuine mammoth steak?
I can't answer it exactly, but quite a long time.
I can answer exactly: as long it takes you to find and extract one. They survived the end of the last ice age (or cold period of the current ice age, depending on how you define it), but there are still corpses encased in arctic glaciers. I don't know how freezer-burned twenty thousand year-old meat is, nor how you butcher or cook a mammoth, but they're out there for the taking, if you can find them.

Oh, wait, you meant from a cloned mammoth?

In that case, even longer than Raggedstar is probably thinking. The output of this project wouldn't be a genuine mammoth, but a mammoth/elephant hybrid.
 

iniudan

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008Zulu said:
I wonder what these cold resistant elephants would eat, in the frozen north, where there are no trees.
Taiga and tundra (both climate they used to live in) are not complete wasteland you know, even in Tundra tree still can grow, but they grow at very sparse distance from each other and have stunted grow.
 

Shinkicker444

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Just think a few generations from now we can hunt the mammoth to extinction all over again! Reliving the glory days (and finding out what made our ancestors have such a hard-on for mammoth steak).
 

WhiteWalker

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If we're able to successfully "bring back" an extinct species I'm all for it. We have and still are bringing too many species to extinction. I for one would love a wooly mammoth for a pet since they're quite useful here north of the wall.
 

T8B95

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While I can't deny that it would be FUCKING AMAZING if we could bring back an extinct species, shouldn't we, you know, focus on saving some of the currently endangered species first?

Me seeing mammoths: cool.
My grandchildren seeing whales: about a thousand times cooler.
 
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008Zulu said:
I wonder what these cold resistant elephants would eat, in the frozen north, where there are no trees.
Sorry to be 'that guy' in this issue but the boreal zone is characterized by many, many trees and very little large animal life. In fact, with a new influx of cold resistant herbivores like mammoths into the upper regions of Canada and Russia endangered carnivores like arctic wolves, snow leopards and even polar bears could, eventually, start to grow in numbers. There's nothing I love more than making flippant and snarky comments on Internet discussion forums but this is actually kind of a big (and positive) deal ecologically speaking.
 

Buizel91

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WhiteWalker said:
If we're able to successfully "bring back" an extinct species I'm all for it. We have and still are bringing too many species to extinction. I for one would love a wooly mammoth for a pet since they're quite useful here north of the wall.
Made my day.

You sir win everything internet related xD
 

Super Cyborg

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If they want to make them just to prove they can, I guess that would be interesting. However, I don't think we should try to make a hybrid and make them successfully breed and reproduce into nature. We screw up the environment enough as is, we don't need to put elephants into a habitat they don't belong to. They would be invasive species, and no matter the kind, invasive species always screw things up. So lets let the species stay extinct, and let's not make a hybrid that could do who knows what kind of damage to the environment.
 

DoctorM

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Because there was a problem that needed solving. Come the ice age we'll all be well fed.

How about these idiots do something useful like cloning bees.
 

Imperioratorex Caprae

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Oh lord... please save us from genetecists. I understand it, its awesome. I just have a paranoid fear that messing with genes is a minefield, and we're Dogmeat.
 

iblis666

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I have a dream that mammoth will be sold along the side of elk, venison, and bison at my local specialty food store