Eat $#!+ and Live

No this title is not an example of a sentence that is totally changed with the insertion of commas. It is uncomfortable because it needs to be.

For a very long time scientists have dreamt of resurrecting the woolly mammoths. Their almost perfectly preserved bodies in the arctic, with their sometimes readable DNA, has spurred this dream along. But there is more complication here than meets the eye.

At first brush it might seem that the act of finding one cell, that has a perfect copy of the DNA, that might be cloned. But the closest relative to the the woolly mammoth is the much smaller Indian elephant. To have an Indian elephant carry a woolly mammoth baby is likely to hurt or even kill the surrogate. So we have to deal with artificial wombs.

De-extinction is complicated. Splicing mammoth DNA into elephant cells is the first step. Next the hybrid cells must be turned into specialized tissues. Growing these tissues to see if they are correct is next. Then they could grow these hybrid cells in an artificial womb. Only then would we be close to getting a woolly mammoth.

We’re still not there. Woolly mammoths must make it to reproductive age and have babies of their own to reestablished. For that we might need elephants again.

Currently we are killing elephants faster than they can reproduce. All for their ivory. I don’t know how to solve this problem. Perhaps all ivory must be banned to stop this. Destroying all ivory – even the stuff that was collected centuries or millennia ago might be the way to go. There are petitions to sign here and here and here. If these don’t work, only in a handful of years the elephant might be extinct.

Well we might have gotten the splices we need and artificial wombs just might be good enough in a few years. Then perhaps we can make our woolly mammoths bring back elephants. But there are unknowns or just things that remain unthought of.

Baby elephants eat their mother’s scat. Mother elephant has gut flora that helps break down what she eats. The only way for these animals in the wild to transfer this gut flora is through the mother’s scat. It may sound horrible but this is the only way that baby elephants can live and grow to adulthood.

We may have to get the gut flora for a woolly mammoth from the Indian elephant. There might be other reasons to need elephants in order to bring back woolly mammoths, too.

So if you ever wanted to see a woolly mammoth, save the elephant and sign one of the petitions that exist to ban ivory sales. After all how else are we supposed to have Ice Age Park go amok? That is the dream.

About Larry Russwurm

Just another ranter on the Internet
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