Do you know the “Frozen Zoo” in San Diego, in the US state of California? Although … it’s not a real zoo. About 10,000 cells from animals are stored in the freezers of the Frozen Zoo. The aim is to keep genetic material from endangered animal species in the database. For medically assisted reproduction and evolutionary biology, this is of course particularly exciting. Does the whole thing remind you of anything? That’s right, Steven Spielberg’s iconic Jurassic Park series of sci-fi films used a similar technique to preserve and revive dinosaurs. We remember: the films usually ended with a wild dinosaur hunted down people. So why the hell do researchers want to revive ancient creatures?
For reassurance: The project is not about dinosaurs, but about a species that lived much later, the mammoth. Plus point: They were herbivores, the food consisted of grasses and bushes. How does the reproduction succeed? With a mammoth elephant hybrid. As reported by the American magazine Fortune, George Church, a genetics professor at Harvard Medical School, recognized the possibility of changing the genetic code of the endangered Asian elephants. This should make it more similar to the woolly mammoth. In the laboratory, therefore, embryos with mammoth DNA are to be created and implanted in Asian or African elephants or carried by an artificial uterus. The calves should then return to their original habitat, the arctic mammoth steppe. The mammoth steppe is a special form of steppe that was located in northern Eurasia from Central Europe to East Asia and where mammoths & Co. lived until about 11,000 years ago. The annual average temperature was below minus 1 degree Celsius, the annual precipitation did not exceed 1,000 millimeters, whereby a permafrost soil formed under the steppe. Permafrost soils store carbon compounds which, according to the knowledge platform Earth and Environment, turn into methane, water vapor and carbon dioxide when thawed by microorganisms and could intensify the greenhouse effect.
Stop climate change with mammoth steppe
However, according to The Guardian newspaper, Gareth Phoenix from the University of Sheffield criticizes: “Mammoths are presented as a solution to stop the defrosting of permafrost soils because they cut down trees, trample the ground (…), which can help reduce the temperature of the We do know, however, that in the forested regions of the Arctic, trees and moss cover are vital to protecting permafrost, so removing the trees and trampling the moss would be the last thing to do. ” Dr. Victoria Herridge, evolutionary biologist at the Natural History Museum, also considers the restoration of the Arctic environment with the help of genetic engineering to be unconvincing: “The extent to which this experiment would have to be carried out is enormous. One speaks of hundreds of thousands of mammoths, each 22 months pregnant . They only mature after 30 years. “
Billionaires invest in start-ups
The start-up Colossal, founded by Professor Churches and entrepreneur Ben Lamm, nevertheless received 15 million US dollars (around 12.69 million euros) for the mammoth research. When asked how the company plans to make money, investor Cameron Winklevoss told Fortune, “Many economic opportunities could arise over time, such as television or even extinct animal parks like Jurassic Park.”