A new company announced Monday that it's aiming to genetically resurrect the woolly mammoth, an oft-talked about endeavor that some scientists think could help fight climate change. The goal is to turn frozen tundra in Siberia back into grasslands, which can serve as effective carbon sinks.
But Colossal's plan will undoubtedly raise many questions about the ethics of bringing back the ancient giants from the dead. "There's tons of trouble everyone is going to encounter along the way," Beth Shapiro, a paleogeneticist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, told The New York Times.
Some of the main concerns have to do with the fact that mammoths have been extinct for thousands of years. Therefore, scientists may not know enough about their behavior, which means the animals — if Colossal or some other entity is ever indeed successful at bringing them back, which is far from a given — could suffer.
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For example, at the beginning at least, the mammoths wouldn't have mothers, Heather Browning, a philosopher at the London School of Economics, pointed out. And if the species was "anything like elephants," they would have had "extraordinarily strong infant-mother bonds that last for a very long time," she told the Times. That leaves Browning wondering who will look after the mammoths once they're on the ground. Read more at The New York Times.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the name of Heather Browning.
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