The return of the mammoth | National Geographic

Johannes Krause does not have much to gain from the church project. “I think mammoths are very unsuitable for resuscitation,” Paleogenetic said. In particular, the long generation time, that is, the average age at which elephants breed, is a sticking point in everything: in order to gradually change the genes of elephants, several generations of elephants must be bred. In the case of elephants with a generation time of 17 years or more, decades or centuries may pass before they actually acquire the characteristics and appearance of a mammoth. Techniques like CRISPR make it possible to alter several parts of the genome at the same time and speed things up. But even with a “fair” difference of 0.4 percent, there would be millions of jobs to change in the genome.

According to Krause, there is one more thing to consider: “You should be able to alter several million places in the genome without causing harm.” Convert an Asian elephant into a mammoth. “It’s not like we’re saying in mammoths that this gene is responsible for curved canines and this gene is responsible for long hair,” Krause says. First, smaller results are already available regarding genes that enable adaptation to cold climates. However, in Krause’s opinion, more functional studies are necessary before these findings can actually be applied: “There are still many steps to be taken and we are still a long way from that.”

With mammoths against climate change?

Regardless of the feasibility, one point in the mammoth’s return still raises doubts among Krause and many critics of the project: “Why should we revive an animal whose habitat no longer exists today?” In fact, the mammoth’s former habitat has changed a lot since its disappearance. Where in the past there were vast steppes and pastures, today forests and swamps prevail. Whether the extinction of the mammoth was responsible for this change is controversial. The mammoth’s activity aims to help ensure that these giant steppes are back again.

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Colossal leads on his own website She had other goals that would be followed by reviving the mammoth. Among other things, the revived mammoth should also help fight climate change. Therefore their activity should slow down the thawing of the permafrost and thus prevent the release of greenhouse gases stored in the permafrost. The theory behind it is exciting. So does Guido Gross, head of permafrost research at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam. “Such large mammals can affect their environment by dramatically changing vegetation,” Gross says. In addition, the animals will also have an effect on the ice cover: “When the animals are looking for food, the snow cover becomes thinner and the winter frosts penetrate deeper. This means that permafrost can be preserved. “

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