WOOLLY mammoths could be about rise from the deadÂ as aÂ remarkable plan to resurrect the long-extinct beast moves a step closer â and in doing may save humankind from disaster.
Pioneering scientist George Church from the elite Harvard University has revealed how a cloning project was on the verge of being able to grow a baby mammoth in a lab.
His team of leading Harvard scientists have been using DNA recovered from a woolly mammothÂ found perfectly preserved in ice in Siberia after dying 42,000 years ago.
By merging genes from the long dead mammals with that of elephants their species may be resurrected.
The team are set to publish in the coming weeks scientific papers laying out in a detail theirÂ progress theirÂ revolutionary technique in creating and implanting mammalian embryos.
Speaking to Sun Online, Prof Church said: âWe have already revived dozens of genes and are testing them in elephant cells.
âWe are focusing on a reviving mammoth genes and making a mammoth/elephant hybrid and help them spread to vast wild, arctic climates.â
Using a genetic engineering called CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing, his team of scientists can âcut and pasteâ strands of DNA into elephant stem cells with a precision not seen before, paving the way for a woolly mammoth embryo.Â
Prof Church saidÂ he wants to then grow a hybrid woolly mammoth/elephant hybrid within an artificial womb rather than using a female elephant as a surrogate mum.Â
It is estimated this will take at least 22 months.
The prof believes this will allow woolly mammoths herds to begin once more plodding about the arctic and while doing so save the world.Â
Along with other measures, it’s hoped the woolly mammoths will create an environment which could stop Siberia’s permafrost melting and then releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gases.
The doomsday scenario has been dubbed as theÂ âmethane bomb,â because if it happened it wouldÂ dramatically worsen climate change, melting the ice cap and flooding countries across the world.
And there is clear evidence that this is already happening.
Bubble like mounds have been popping up like a geological plague and some have already burst and spewed out toxic gas which damages the atmosphere.
But the worst of this ticking time bomb has yet to happen.
Much of the methane is still trapped underneath by the permafrost layer which is fast disappearing and threatens to release the gas at any moment.Â
An area where this is starting to happen is the Yamal Peninsula.Â
Shocking aerial footage has revealed 1000s of methane-filled cratersÂ âÂ which threatens to happen across Russiaâs frozen far north.
Ironically melting ice here revealed preserved woolly mammoths that are now being used in the cloning attempts.
And if the huge furry mammoths/elephant hybrids were to be brought into being, Prof Church said they could repopulate these freezing wastelands and help lock in the lethal fumes.Â
He said: âCold-resistant elephants would flatten the in sulating snow and supporting trees in winter and favour the highly heat reflective grass in summer.
âThey would also help capture new carbon by enhancing the photosynthetic capacity of the vegetation.â
Should Prof Church and his Harvard uni team successfully clone woolly mammoths they would be taken to an extraordinary Ice Age safari park currently being developed by Russian scientists.
Called the Pleistocene Park, the 20,000 hectare zone in the furthest stretches of remote Siberia has been created in a bid to recreate an Ice-Age ecosystem.
Boffins believe grazing woolly mammoths would also compact the snow in the winter and grass in the summer all of which lowers the permafrost temperature.
In a previous interview, park director and scientist Nikita Zimov told Sun Online: “By the time mammoths will be cloned, if they’re cloned and brought to the park, we will have a system.
“They’ll eat shrubs, break down shrubs. They’ll trample down the grass, eat the grass. The park is to show animals can transform the vegetation.”
If the park, which is already populated withÂ bison, horses, moose, reindeer and muskox, is successful it will be expanded across the north in areas where there is a risk of mass methane release.
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