A breakthrough has been made that could lead to the revival of the woolly mammoth

Woolly mammoths can once again roam the Earth.

That's the goal of Colossal Biosciences as the biotech company announced a major breakthrough Wednesday in its mission to revive the 6-ton, 16-foot-tall animal from extinction.

The Dallas-based company said it has created a line of stem cells from an Asian elephant, hoping to bring back a creature that eerily resembles a woolly mammoth, according to reports.

“This is probably the most important step in the early stages of this project,” said George Church, a geneticist, co-founder of the company, and a Harvard professor. According to NPR.

Woolly mammoths can once again roam the Earth. shutterstock/pavel masychev

The woolly mammoth went the way of the dodo about 4,000 years ago, and while the company won't bring back the exact same species, it will produce an animal with similar traits like a heavy fur coat and plenty of fat to withstand freezing temperatures.

“It will walk like a woolly mammoth, look like one, and sound like one, but most importantly it will be able to live in the same ecosystem that was previously abandoned after the extinction of the mammoth,” the company said. He said.

The company's goal, however noble, is to eventually genetically modify the nucleus of a stem cell with genes from a mammoth, then combine it with an elephant egg. The Washington Post reported. The fetus is then placed in the elephant's surrogate, which will hopefully give birth.

But not everyone is aware of Colossal's purpose.

Any living elephant that gives birth to a new mammoth will face at least some level of suffering, warns Tory Herridge, a paleontologist at the University of Sheffield in England.

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“How many dead elephants are we willing to go through to get just one piece of wool,” she told The Washington Post.

Co-founder George Church says the move was a major breakthrough.
Co-founder George Church says the move was a major breakthrough.

Another scientist bluntly described it as “irresponsible.”

“What are you going to get out of this?” Carl Flessa, a professor of geosciences at the University of Arizona, told NPR:

“First of all, I think you're going to have a bit of a freak show in a zoo somewhere. And then, if you were to release a herd into the Arctic tundra, would that herd be headed toward a second extinction in the face of global warming?”

Colossal insisted that it would eventually like to use artificial wombs if all goes according to plan, according to the Washington Post.

The company also argued that bringing back woolly mammoths could actually help fight climate change because traveling herds could slow the permafrost — a frozen layer of Earth — from thawing that allows atmospheric-damaging carbon to escape into the air, The Washington Post reported.

“There are a lot of reasons to bring that environment back to what it was,” Church said, according to the outlet. “That's the key kind of missing to it.”

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