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Is a Scientist’s Attempt to Resurrect the Woolly Mammoth Ethical? « Berman Institute Bioethics Bulletin

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George Church, a geneticist at Harvard University, recently announced that scientists are leading a “de-extinction” effort that will result in a hybrid mammoth-elephant embryo. This could, in a sense, bring back the ancient beast.

The new woolly mammoth, may not, however, be woolly. In fact, we can’t quite predict exactly what it will be. Church’s project to resurrect the woolly mammoth won’t create an exact replica of the extinct animal. “It would be more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits,” he told the Guardian.

The genetic hybrid will contain some traits that will be edited into an Asian elephant, which is the closest cousin of the woolly mammoth. Church claims that he has a found a way to include traits for mammoth hair in the hybrid, but there’s no guarantee it’ll work as expected. Would years of effort and tens of millions of dollars be worth the price for a not-so-woolly elephant-mammoth hybrid?

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Image: By WolfmanSF – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16355327

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