We all are no stranger to the Jurassic Park franchise, a renowned film series that started in 1993 and spread across three decades of cultural and historical influence. These movies talk about how humans used their knowledge and the advancement of technologies to resurrect dinosaurs that were deemed extinct millions of years ago, prompting us to think what was impossible in the past may be a reality in the future. But if we are still thinking that extinct animals only exist in history books or movies, our narratives are soon to be changed, as Colossal, a bioscience company is preparing to restore dead animals to life, including the woolly mammoth, dodos, and Tasmanian tigers.
$60 Million Worth of Funds Added to the Woolly Mammoth De-Extinction Project
The Dallas-based Colossal was founded by geneticist George Church and serial entrepreneur Ben Lamm back in 2021, with specialisations of genetic engineering and reproductive technology developments. Though still a start-up, the company has grandiose aspirations of reviving extinct animals and creatures to live in the modern world, with hopes of reestablishing steppe grasslands and combating the rapidly changing climate. Colossal’s first project in this regard is to resurrect the woolly mammoth that went extinct about 10,000 years ago.
This project started in 2021, and the gene-editing process has been given with an additional $60 million in private funding to spur the development. The main reason why the company thinks that the project would work, is because of the similarity in terms of DNA between the existing Asian elephants and the ancient woolly mammoth, as both have a 99.6% percent match.
If Colossal does manage to complete this majestic work, the once extinct animal, now in a modern form of cold-resistant Asian elephant, will be introduced to the wildlife that woolly mammoths used to live in, and its existence will be a firm factor for mankind to restore the balance within our climate. Should the woolly mammoth be brought back to life by 2027, the likely habitat for such an animal will be locations such as Siberia or Russia.
Who Are the Investors of Colossal?
The Dallas-based company is yet to be listed on any markets, which means people will not have public access to the company, but when we consider its private investors are coming from a large channel of organisations that includes Breyer Capital, WestRiver Group, Bob Nelsen, Animal Capital, Victor Vescovo, In-Q-Tel, Animoca Brands, Peak 6, Bold Capital, Jazz Ventures, etc., and having already raised a jaw-dropping sum of $225 million as a start-up, we might just be edging closer to doing the unthinkable – that is, in this case, resurrecting animals that have been long extinct.
De-extinction programmes are not the sole project Colossal is working on, it has also been working on biotech products such as a vaccine for Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpes Virus (EEHV), according to reliable insider sources, the latest assessment suggests that the company is now valued at $1.5 billion. The company certainly looks promising, but a million-dollar question which puzzles people is, how could reviving an animal from the past be able to score profits for the company. As we dive deeper into the research and development within the biotech industry of this said case, chances are we are exploring the unknown and that could ignite new interests within the biodiversity that we are already familiar with.
Let Us Talk About Some Ethical Questions
We are about four years early to talk about having a real woolly mammoth walking before us in real life, but Colossal is already preparing for its other de-extinction programmes on long-dead animals such as dodos and Tasmanian tigers. Now, we have been taught in both movies and real life how chaotic it could be by introducing something non-native to a habitat, as animals always seek their position along the food chain. This could pose a serious threat to the global ecosystem if de-extinction projects like the ones in Colossal are not properly executed, despite the plans having objectives to save the biodiversity crisis we made ourselves live in.
Worth the Effort?
Bringing something back to life will be an honourable feat, but such an unprecedented move would naturally receive criticisms in the harshest possible way. Well, what if, after all, de-extinction is not the best way to support species conservation? Or, is it really that significant, saving things which no longer existed?
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