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Harvard scientist aims to resurrect the wooly mammoth within a few years

Brett Crawford and Matt Fair deconstruct the skeleton of a wooly mammoth at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History on Oct. 20, 2014.
Brett Crawford and Matt Fair deconstruct the skeleton of a wooly mammoth at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History on Oct. 20, 2014. The Washington Post

A subject thousands of years old was trending Friday, Feb. 17, 2017.

The wooly mammoth went extinct 4,000 years ago, but one scientist wants to bring it back. Harvard geneticist Dr. George Church wants to engineer a mammoth-like animal capable of surviving in colder climates, the Guardian reports.

Speaking ahead of the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Boston this week, Church, the scientist leading the “de-extinction” effort, told the Guardian the Harvard team is just two years away from creating a hybrid embryo, in which mammoth traits would be programmed into an Asian elephant.

Church says the move could help curb climate change by slowing the release of carbon from arctic ice and soil in the tundra, which the mammoths would help punch down.

So far, Church's team has edited 15 key genes that will be needed to resurrect the creature, which will be combined with the DNA of the asian elephant to create the creature.

Critics

“I believe the priority should be towards keeping the near extinct animals from becoming extinct,” wrote the Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation on Facebook.

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