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De-Extincting the Woolly Mammoth
Scientist say they are on the verge of resurrecting the species.

Pleistocene Park. First the Auroch and now the Woolly Mammoth?

Hannah Devlin Science correspondent

the Guardian | Thursday 16 February 2017 10.00 EST Last modified on Thursday 16 February 2017 13.20 EST

Woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), a model of an extinct Ice Age mammoth. Photograph: Andrew Nelmerm/Getty Images/Dorling Kindersley

The woolly mammoth vanished from the Earth 4,000 years ago, but now scientists say they are on the brink of resurrecting the ancient beast in a revised form, through an ambitious feat of genetic engineering.

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

“Our aim is to produce a hybrid elephant-mammoth embryo,” said Prof George Church. “Actually, it would be more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits. We’re not there yet, but it could happen in a couple of years.”

The creature, sometimes referred to as a “mammophant”, would be partly elephant, but with features such as small ears, subcutaneous fat, long shaggy hair and cold-adapted blood. The mammoth genes for these traits are spliced into the elephant DNA using the powerful gene-editing tool, Crispr.

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