Bringing Extinct Animals Back To Life?

October 28, 2021

If you were a scientist and you had a way of bringing back animals that have been extinct for over 10,000 years, would you? Now hold that thought …

Have you ever watched the movie, Jurassic Park? If so, you know that it was about a scientist who brings back dinosaurs and builds a park-like island for people to experience these now extinct reptiles. But something goes incredibly wrong and what was thought of as a spectacular scientific marvel, became a huge disaster. It seems like a real-life version of Jurassic Park may be in our future. No, dinosaurs aren’t coming back and living on an island somewhere off the coast of the United States, but one company is trying to bring an extinct animal back to life.

Model of Woolly Mammoth
Model of Woolly Mammoth. Royal Victoria Museum, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, 2018 By Thomas Quine – https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinet/44598416660/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=80400437

Colossal, a company led by Harvard professor George Church, is hoping to bring back the woolly mammoth, but in a new form. Church plans to use DNA from a frozen mammoth and combine it with the DNA of an Asian Elephant (the woolly mammoth’s closest relative) to make a hybrid species called the “mammophant.” The mammophant will look like and behave like a woolly elephant.

But why bring back an animal that’s extinct? Church and other researchers believe that the mammophant can help combat climate change. How? The woolly mammoth scratched the snow away so that air could reach the soil and cool down planet Earth. When they became extinct, snow piled up and air could no longer reach the soil, resulting in a warmer planet.

Some researchers don’t agree with Church’s idea and believe that these extinct animals wouldn’t even scratch the surface (pun very much intended!) of fixing the climate change problem and it wouldn’t be ethically responsible to bring these animals back. Instead, the researchers believe that Church and his colleagues should help endangered species from becoming extinct in the first place.

What do you think? Should researchers bring back extinct animals?