Bringing back woolly mammoth goal of Silicon Valley startup
SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) - A startup wants to use new technology to bring back the woolly mammoth.
The project already has $15 million in funding, and the technology may actually be there to make it happen.
It sounds like a scene from “Jurassic Park,” but it’s true.
Using CRISPR genome editing technology created by University of California, Berkeley professor Jennifer Doudna, a team of scientists aim to genetically resurrect a woolly mammoth by 2027.
“Scientifically, they’re not bringing back the Woolly Mammoth. It’s actually more like creating a genetically-modified elephant. In that sense, though, science has a lot of experience genetically modifying all sorts of different things,” said Dr. Jack Tseng, assistant professor at the UC Berkeley Department of Integrative Biology.
“I think it’s definitely within the technology and the science that we can see that it’s possible today to make something like that happen,” he said.
The scientists’ plan is to repopulate the Arctic with the mammoth to help counteract the effects of climate change.
The Arctic plant life is out of balance, resulting in more carbon emissions. The mammoths used to maintain that balance, and the hope is they can do it again.
But to paraphrase “Jurassic Park, “just because we could, doesn’t mean we should.
“It’s one thing to construct something in a lab,” Tseng said. “It’s another thing to make it happen and release it back into nature. We’re not quite there scientifically as far as just understanding the impact on the environment.”
Long before the “Shark Tank” or Tower Hall were in San Jose, another giant stood tall.
In 2005, a man was walking along the Guadalupe river when he made a “mammoth” discovery.
“And it turned out to be a 10,000-year-old Columbian mammoth,” said Marilee Jennings, executive director of the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose.
The discovery showed the largest of the mammoth species once roamed Silicon Valley.
The Children’s Discovery Museum took the fossil remains and recreated what the mammoth, aptly named Lupe, would look like.
“This feels very, very big to us, so I can’t imagine what that would be like,” Jennings said.
Though just a model of a Columbian mammoth child, It’s about as close as humans can get to these giant beasts nowadays. But maybe not for long.
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