A mammoth revival

Well, yes, it’s a big thing, or will be if it works, but the story here is about a proposal to revive — de-extinct seems to be the technical term — the woolly mammoth, à la Jurassic Park.

Dinosaurs, no; see the scientist in this wry cartoon by Tom Gauld (originally from New Scientist, then reprinted in You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack and in Department of Mind-Blowing Theories):


But woolly mammoths, sort of and maybe. And on that there’s recent news from Harvard (where is Tom Lehrer when we need him?).

(Hat tip to Robert Coren.)

The speculative science. From the Revive & Restore site “The Woolly Mammoth Revival Fellowship” (announcement posted on 3/2/21):

(#2) Heading image for the Woolly Mammoth Revival Fellowship page

Revive & Restore is pleased to announce a post-doctoral fellowship opportunity for well-qualified individuals interested in a full-time appointment researching the science underlying Woolly Mammoth de-extinction in the laboratory of Dr. George Church at Harvard Medical School. This fellowship is fully supported by Revive & Restore, the leading non-profit organization working to bring biotechnologies to wildlife conservation.

… Breakthrough advances in genomic biotechnology are presenting the possibility of bringing back long-extinct species — or at least “proxy” species with traits and ecological functions similar to the extinct originals.
The Woolly Mammoth has emerged as a leading candidate for this work. It can be attempted because a close relative of the mammoth is still living—the Asian elephant. Thanks to the similarity of their genomes, the genes of woolly mammoth traits can be edited into the Asian elephant genome, and the combination brought to life as an elephant cousin, once again adapted to the conditions of the far north.

The ultimate goal of Woolly Mammoth Revival is to bring back this extinct species so that healthy herds may one-day re-populate vast tracts of tundra and boreal forest in Eurasia and North America. The intent is not to make perfect copies of extinct Woolly Mammoths, but to focus on the mammoth adaptations needed for Asian elephants to thrive in the cold climate of the Arctic. The milestones along the way range from developing elephant tissue cultures to genome editing and most importantly, developing insights that help with Asian elephant conservation.

The Woolly Mammoth Revival team headed by George Church is working to identify cold climate adapted alleles of the mammoth genome and edit them into living elephant cells. …

The movies. On this blog, in the 7/20/18 posting “Jurassic Jeff”, background on Jeff Goldblum, the movie Jurassic Park (1993), and its successor movies:

(#3) Poster for the original Jurassic Park

2 Responses to “A mammoth revival”

  1. Mitch4 Says:

    Uh, sorry, off-topic…

    From the quotation above:
    “The ultimate goal of Woolly Mammoth Revival is to bring back this extinct species so that healthy herds may one-day re-populate vast tracts of tundra and boreal forest in Eurasia and North America.”

    I’ve been noticing a writing habit of hyphenation in cases that don’t seem to fall under standard reasons. Something like the *one-day* in the middle of that sentence is an example. It’s not compounding. It’s not quite like the eccentric-long-phrase-combining-hyphenations of someone gesturing at creating a term-of-art. But it does share with the latter a sense of wanting to hold together some words that do have semantic and usually syntactic relations already, but which the writer fears(?) will not be taken by the reader as a linked phrase.

    Suggestions on what is going on?

  2. Mind-Blowing Theories | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] journalist, and Jurassic Park. My 4/19/21 posting “A mammoth revival” features a Gauld cartoon on de-extincting dinosaurs as Jurassic […]

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