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Old 13th September 2021, 09:06 PM   #1
Orphia Nay
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Company "Colossal" aims to bring woolly mammoths back to life

"It is the elephant in the genomics room: can extinct species be resurrected? One bioscience firm insists they can, announcing its intent to use emerging technology to restore the woolly mammoth to the Arctic tundra."

"The animals died out about 4,000 years ago. For decades, scientists have been recovering bits and pieces of mammoth tusks, bones, teeth and hair to extract and try to sequence the mammoth's DNA.

"Colossal says it aims to insert DNA sequences of woolly mammoths, collected from well-preserved remains in the permafrost and frozen steppes, into the genome of Asian elephants, to create an "elephant-mammoth hybrid"."

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-...ence/100459342

Hmmm. What could go wrong?
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Old 13th September 2021, 09:40 PM   #2
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Apocalyptic zombie mammoths?
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Old 13th September 2021, 10:35 PM   #3
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Hope any viable offspring don't suffer too long before they expire.
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Old 14th September 2021, 12:51 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Norman Alexander View Post
Apocalyptic zombie mammoths?
They certainly won't be zombies. They will be artificially inseminated, but naturally-born living creatures. It is an interesting experiment in genetics, and I'm sure the resulting elephant-mammoth hybrid (elephammoth) will have an excellent life and will be well cared for in between medical and genetic examinations.
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Old 14th September 2021, 01:14 AM   #5
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Pleistocene Park?
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Old 14th September 2021, 01:30 AM   #6
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whatever will come out will not be a woolly mammoth.

but who cares if it look the part?
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Old 14th September 2021, 04:05 AM   #7
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It's not my area of expertise (I'm not sure what is!) so please excuse a possibly silly question.

Can't they find male and female mammoths, extract eggs and sperm from the relevant ones, do a bit of in-vitro messing about and just have the elephant carry the fertilised egg{s) to term? Or would they not be viable after being frozen for so long?
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Old 14th September 2021, 05:18 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by SteveAitch View Post
It's not my area of expertise (I'm not sure what is!) so please excuse a possibly silly question.

Can't they find male and female mammoths, extract eggs and sperm from the relevant ones, do a bit of in-vitro messing about and just have the elephant carry the fertilised egg{s) to term? Or would they not be viable after being frozen for so long?
The DNA won't be viable as-is.

I think they've only been able to partially reconstruct the DNA sequences of a few recent specimens.

Imagine a 5000-piece jigsaw puzzle, but you only have a few dozen pieces, and the rest have been lost.

ETA: I guess the idea is to just use elephant DNA to fill in the missing parts. Still, would probably be much more elephant than mammoth.
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Old 14th September 2021, 05:26 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
The DNA won't be viable as-is.

I think they've only been able to partially reconstruct the DNA sequences of a few recent specimens.

Imagine a 5000-piece jigsaw puzzle, but you only have a few dozen pieces, and the rest have been lost.

ETA: I guess the idea is to just use elephant DNA to fill in the missing parts. Still, would probably be much more elephant than mammoth.
Fair enough. So it will probably end up looking like my friend Ella - a furry elephant?
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Old 14th September 2021, 06:55 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by SteveAitch View Post
Fair enough. So it will probably end up looking like my friend Ella - a furry elephant?
Yeah, I suppose it could be furry, if they somehow manage to actually do it successfully. But who knows which parts of the jigsaw puzzle they will find. They might not have the part that makes a wooly mammoth wooly.
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Old 14th September 2021, 07:13 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by SteveAitch View Post
Can't they find male and female mammoths, extract eggs and sperm from the relevant ones, do a bit of in-vitro messing about and just have the elephant carry the fertilised egg{s) to term?
I can't find any reports of any eggs or sperm being found and it's not at all likely that will change.
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Old 14th September 2021, 07:15 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Pleistocene Park?
That is a proposed location.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleistocene_Park
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Old 14th September 2021, 08:03 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
whatever will come out will not be a woolly mammoth.

but who cares if it look the part?
Quite, it will be a genetically engineered elephant.

Also, 'to restore the woolly mammoth to the Arctic tundra' would take hundreds of genetically engineered elephants to ensure the gene pool is sufficiently deep.
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Old 14th September 2021, 08:19 AM   #14
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Unless it was human hunting or destruction of their habitat why would they survive today if they had already gone extinct?
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Old 14th September 2021, 08:20 AM   #15
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Have to admit - woolly elephants do strike me as being cool!
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Old 14th September 2021, 08:27 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Have to admit - woolly elephants do strike me as being cool!
No, warm.
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Old 14th September 2021, 09:29 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by SteveAitch View Post
It's not my area of expertise (I'm not sure what is!) so please excuse a possibly silly question.

Can't they find male and female mammoths, extract eggs and sperm from the relevant ones, do a bit of in-vitro messing about and just have the elephant carry the fertilised egg{s) to term? Or would they not be viable after being frozen for so long?

Worst. Porno. Ever.
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Old 14th September 2021, 09:30 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Unless it was human hunting and destruction of their habitat why would they survive today if they had already gone extinct?
Fixed that for you. Pleistocene Park linked above has already shown plenty of evidence that Hunting by humans would have caused an ecological cascade that also caused the destruction of their habitat. It's like a feedback loop. You hunt too many and that reduces habitat which further reduces numbers and makes hunting even more impactful which dramatically reduces habitat, which dramatically reduces numbers ... and so on and so on right down to extirpation and even extinction.

This is why it is so important for people to understand that undergrazing is just as or more destructive a thing as overgrazing. Not easy because actually you won't even find the term in most dictionaries!

But here is a pretty good definition:
Quote:
undergrazing means permitting the growth, quality or species composition of grazed vegetation to deteriorate significantly through the lack of, or through insufficient, grazing or management;
And to answer your question, the park is already restoring the lost grassland biome required for their survival by reintroducing many other extirpated species. They already have positive results.
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Old 14th September 2021, 12:29 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
That is a proposed location.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleistocene_Park
Really? I was just kidding. I had no idea, I made it up - I was playing on the "Jurassic Park" thing.
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Old 14th September 2021, 02:24 PM   #20
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It's just one step from there to making Banthas.
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Old 14th September 2021, 04:50 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Unless it was human hunting or destruction of their habitat why would they survive today if they had already gone extinct?
You bring up a good point.

I do think it was human hunting that killed them off, but there's also no guarantee that these hybrids would be as well adapted to life in Siberia as the actual mammoths were. They evolved to live there over millions of generations. We are just randomly splicing some gene sequences together based on what we can find that remains, and it could well be missing key survival attributes that the mammoths possessed but which elephants adapted to living in the tropics do not.
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Old 14th September 2021, 05:33 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by alfaniner View Post
It's just one step from there to making Banthas.
Maybe they could be the source of a "wooly" gene.
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Old 14th September 2021, 05:38 PM   #23
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Maybe they will make good zoo animals? People will pay big $ to see big animals they cannot see elsewhere.
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Old 14th September 2021, 07:59 PM   #24
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Old 14th September 2021, 08:05 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
whatever will come out will not be a woolly mammoth.
No, it won't. As I said, it will be an elephammoth. Or possibly a mammophant.
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Old 14th September 2021, 09:54 PM   #26
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You know what might be easier than bringing back mammoths?

How about the passenger pigeon? Or the Tasmanian tiger? They both existed as recently as the 20th century. They probably have tissue samples preserved somewhere. Maybe they can figure out the entire genetic sequence? Then it's just a matter of, can we somehow put that genetic sequence into an egg.
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Old 15th September 2021, 12:09 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Norman Alexander View Post
Apocalyptic zombie mammoths?
Nothing can possibli go wrong.
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Old 15th September 2021, 12:32 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
You know what might be easier than bringing back mammoths?

How about the passenger pigeon?
With the whole falling out of favour of certain kinds of statues, I'm not completely certain there's enough of a natural habitat for more pigeons.
Quote:
Or the Tasmanian tiger?
Now, that would be a cool one to see! I would certainly support an effort for this.
Quote:
They both existed as recently as the 20th century. They probably have tissue samples preserved somewhere.
Most likely. Is that tissue better than having been frozen in the tundra, though. I have no idea.
Quote:
Maybe they can figure out the entire genetic sequence? Then it's just a matter of, can we somehow put that genetic sequence into an egg.
At least it's some kind of effort for something positive in this world. And who knows. Maybe we can use the knowledge gained for re-terraforming our own planet?
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Old 15th September 2021, 06:51 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
You bring up a good point.

I do think it was human hunting that killed them off, but there's also no guarantee that these hybrids would be as well adapted to life in Siberia as the actual mammoths were. They evolved to live there over millions of generations. We are just randomly splicing some gene sequences together based on what we can find that remains, and it could well be missing key survival attributes that the mammoths possessed but which elephants adapted to living in the tropics do not.
Not random sequences though - they are targeting alleles that they believe were adaptive to mammoths relative to the extant elephants.

FWIW, Note that the mammoths were more closely related to the Asian elephants (i.e. share a more recent common ancestor) than Asian elephants do with African elephants, so they were modern elephants in that sense - some persisting on Alaskan islands until a few thousand years ago (when inbreeding likely doomed them).

In that sense, while they won't truly be mammoths, the new beasts might very well be good at filling the same ecological niche. I'm a bit dubious the ability to produce enough of them to have a viable population (and whether the Russians, etc will be down with releasing them).
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Old 15th September 2021, 07:20 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
You know what might be easier than bringing back mammoths?

How about the passenger pigeon? Or the Tasmanian tiger? They both existed as recently as the 20th century. They probably have tissue samples preserved somewhere. Maybe they can figure out the entire genetic sequence? Then it's just a matter of, can we somehow put that genetic sequence into an egg.
Usually easier to get whole genome sequence for the more recently extinct animals, but you need an intact nucleus for direct transfer into an enucleated oocyte, and you only get those from extant animals (so useful for severely endangered animals with close living relatives).

Mammoth sequence has been available for a few years, but (like most mammalian genomes) is not complete. For reference, the human genome actually only got completed this year. I was going to check the basic stats on it, but it's not available at Ensembl, where most the of the mammalian genome data is available. It looks like the publicly available data is housed at Penn State, but the website isn't fully functional.

I would bet the company/Church's lab has additional/better sequence, but is it enough? Have they correctly IDed enough of the relevant variants? My current job consists largely of classifying novel human variants - and even with all the available, population data, predictors, - it's often non-trivial to make a prediction - many get lumped in the garbage heap of "Variant of Unknown Significance".

Optimally, you'd like a close (recently diverged) relative with similar reproductive biology - which the Tasmanian tiger lacks.

A good but scary candidates would be the American lion

Some friends and I did some serious thinking about this in the late 90s - I had done my doctoral work in a natural history museum and was in a howard hughes lab whose PI had reviewed the Dolly the Sheep paper. Silicon valley was handing out $$ like candy at that point, and we had a contact that thought there would be interest in a "Pleistocene Park" type company.
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Old 15th September 2021, 10:21 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
You bring up a good point.

I do think it was human hunting that killed them off, but there's also no guarantee that these hybrids would be as well adapted to life in Siberia as the actual mammoths were. They evolved to live there over millions of generations. We are just randomly splicing some gene sequences together based on what we can find that remains, and it could well be missing key survival attributes that the mammoths possessed but which elephants adapted to living in the tropics do not.
Combination of hunting and the end of the last ice age, I think.
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Old 15th September 2021, 02:03 PM   #32
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I suspect this company is not very serious. An early step would be to do this using an animal that is still alive. Just to get the process right. Then they can start doing it with extinct animals.
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Old 15th September 2021, 03:06 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
I suspect this company is not very serious. An early step would be to do this using an animal that is still alive. Just to get the process right. Then they can start doing it with extinct animals.
It's further along that that.

Most of the techniques have already been tested on living animals. And tests, so far none successful, have already been done for at least one very recently extinct species of Ibex.
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Old 15th September 2021, 04:04 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
It's further along that that.

Most of the techniques have already been tested on living animals. And tests, so far none successful, have already been done for at least one very recently extinct species of Ibex.
That is still a long way from cloning a woolly mammoth.
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Old 15th September 2021, 04:17 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Orphia Nay View Post
"It is the elephant in the genomics room: can extinct species be resurrected? One bioscience firm insists they can, announcing its intent to use emerging technology to restore the woolly mammoth to the Arctic tundra."

"The animals died out about 4,000 years ago. For decades, scientists have been recovering bits and pieces of mammoth tusks, bones, teeth and hair to extract and try to sequence the mammoth's DNA.

"Colossal says it aims to insert DNA sequences of woolly mammoths, collected from well-preserved remains in the permafrost and frozen steppes, into the genome of Asian elephants, to create an "elephant-mammoth hybrid"."

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-...ence/100459342

Hmmm. What could go wrong?

Depends on which Jurassiac Park movie you are talking about......SOmething always goes wrong. Whole premise of the series.
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Old 15th September 2021, 04:19 PM   #36
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BTW plotline for the next Jurassia world movie is that the Dinosarus have become a lot more numerous, and Humans have to learn to coexist with them......
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Old 15th September 2021, 04:58 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
BTW plotline for the next Jurassia world movie is that the Dinosarus have become a lot more numerous, and Humans have to learn to coexist with them......

Hmm, seems odd. We don't put up with extant large predators, or even out of place large farm animals, in human spaces. We can't even protect large wild species from hunting and poaching sufficiently to maintain their numbers.

Maybe those little chicken-size dinosaurs, the compys, turn out to be an incredibly fast-spreading invasive species, and the only way to keep their population in check is to keep the bigger dinos around too. Because e.g. training dogs to hunt them would be too much trouble.
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Old 15th September 2021, 05:11 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
You know what might be easier than bringing back mammoths?

How about the passenger pigeon? Or the Tasmanian tiger? They both existed as recently as the 20th century. They probably have tissue samples preserved somewhere. Maybe they can figure out the entire genetic sequence? Then it's just a matter of, can we somehow put that genetic sequence into an egg.
It's been in the works for a decade. Here is a recent update:

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They are relatively much closer than Mammoth de-extinction.
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Old 15th September 2021, 09:49 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
It's been in the works for a decade. Here is a recent update:

YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE


They are relatively much closer than Mammoth de-extinction.
Thanks! Was not aware of that effort.
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