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A Mammoth Competition

Two labs are now vying to be the first to bring back the woolly mammoth, Newsweek reports.

Harvard Medical School's George Church has been talking up the idea of de-extinction for some time. In 2014, he told National Geographic that the easiest way to resurrect the woolly mammoth would be to use genome editing and multiplex automated genetic engineering (MAGE) approaches to transform an elephant genome into that of a mammoth, though he noted the resulting genome would be more of an elephant-mammoth hybrid. In 2016, he told LiveScience that his lab had begun splicing mammoth DNA into the elephant genome and that they were only a few years from developing that elephant-mammoth hybrid, though longer away from a pure mammoth.

But Church's lab isn't the only one seeking the de-extinction of the woolly mammoth. Newsweek reports that Sooam Biotech in South Korea is also working toward this goal. Sooam, which is known for its cloning work, has teamed up with researchers in Russia and China to scour mammoths that had become frozen in permafrost for viable DNA.

As Newsweek notes, either approach will take some work. "Both groups of scientists likely face a long journey before raising the pachyderm dead," it says.