iD magazine

The Return of the Mammoth

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OPTION 1: CLONING

Researcher­s collect cells with intact genetic material from a woolly mammoth carcass that has been preserved in permafrost for thousands of years.

The Dna-containing nucleus is removed from of one of the collected mammoth cells and is then inserted into an egg cell from an Asian elephant. As the manipulate­d egg cell divides a mammoth embryo begins to develop.

The embryo is implanted into the uterus of a female elephant, and at the end of gestation she gives birth to a woolly mammoth. Due to the difficulty of finding intact genetic material, this scenario is considered unlikely.

OPTION 2: GENETIC MODIFICATI­ON

Mammoths shared at least 95% of their DNA with elephants. A modern gene-editing tool known as CRISPR makes it possible to splice mammoth genes into an elephant’s genome.

The spliced genome that is transferre­d to an elephant egg cell codes for specific mammoth characteri­stics. The new genetic material makes a resulting elephant embryo develop into a creature that resembles a mammoth.

Depending on the precise degree of genetic manipulati­on, the baby that’s produced will look more like a mammoth or more like an elephant. This approach is regarded as more promising than cloning.

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