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Science

Efforts To Turn Elephants Into Woolly Mammoths Are Already Underway 147

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-waiting-on-a-mammoth-steak dept.
Jason Koebler writes: "Researchers are working to hybridize existing animals with extinct ones in order to create a '2.0' version of the animal. Using a genome editing technique known as CRISPR, Harvard synthetic biologist George Church has successfully migrated three genes, which gave the woolly mammoth its furry appearance, extra layer of fat, and cold-resistant blood, into the cells of Asian elephants, with the idea of eventually making a hybrid embryo. In theory, given what we know about both the woolly mammoth genome and the Asian elephant genome, the final product will be something that more closely resembles the former than the latter."
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Efforts To Turn Elephants Into Woolly Mammoths Are Already Underway

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  • Bad timing? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by daemonhunter (968210) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @05:17PM (#47061023)

    Maybe we shouldn't be making woolly mammoths just now, with climate change and all that apocalyptic-ness right around the corner.

    Just sayin'.

  • Re:so... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @05:37PM (#47061267)

    Umm.. 'cause we can?

  • Global Warming (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @06:27PM (#47061655)

    Maybe they should ask the elephants if this is a good idea before they strap on a wool coat to their DNS.

  • by radtea (464814) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @07:48PM (#47062181)

    "Messing with life", as you call it, has an incredible potential for doing harm if approached carelessly. It doesn't take much imagination to realize this, either: synthetic infectious agents, engineered organisms that displace natural diversity, and so on.

    You've missed the GP's point, and created an instance of his observation.

    There is almost nothing we do that doesn't have "an incredible potential to do harm", and ubiquitous computational intelligence is one of the most obvious candidates for that fear going... yet hardly anyone is afraid of it.

    Ubiquitous computational intelligence (UCI) has the potential to put everyone under constant observation, including position tracking. It has the potential to serve ads to you in your sleep, monitor your caloric intake, keep track and report your alcohol consumption, your masturbation habits... everything. It's Orwell's telescreens on steroids.

    Yet the response to such things on /., while sometimes somewhat skeptical, is mostly positive. Relatively minor messing with the genome of some fairly rare creature, on the other hand, brings out the panic, with flat-out bizarre, anti-Darwinian statements like "these things died out for a reason" (posted by an AC above, who makes points similar to yours.)

    Sure messing with genomes carries risks, but they are comparable to the risks we take with all kinds of technological development, and yet for some reason people seem a lot more sensitive to them. It may not be explicitly religious, but it sure isn't rational.

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