AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Can extinct animals be resurrected?

Recently the CIA has been looking into “resurrecting” extinct animals, specifically Mammoths. Colossal Biosciences, a company based in Texas, believes they can genetically engineer the mammals’ DNA. Although it would be virtually impossible to bring Mammoths back from the dead, their goal is to insert their distinctive traits into present-day Elephants. For this process, scientists need to use “CRISPR,” a method used to replicate gene sequences. According to MedlinePlus, CRISPR “is a group of technologies that give scientists the ability to change an organism’s DNA…and allow genetic material to be added, removed, or altered at particular locations in the genome”. While some scientists are for this idea, others believe it is impossible and the time and money spent could be allocated elsewhere. Ben Shapiro, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, stated “The biggest misconception about de-extinction is that it’s possible.” Even if scientists were able to collect preserved DNA from the animal, it is nearly impossible to replicate them using technology.

AP Biology Connection

All animal cells need oxygen, food, and water, so when they are deprived of it, they die. Cells consume these through a process called endocytosis. Endocytosis is a process in which cells pull substances from the outside and then engulf them in a vesicle. Without this process, not only would the cell die, but so would all of its contents. DNA is the cells “carrier of genetic information“. DNA itself is very fragile, and under no circumstances will it survive from the extinction of the Mammoths to the present day. Ancient DNA, such as the ones we have from Mammoths, has gone through many environmental issues. Elements such as sunlight, water, and heat can accelerate the DNA degrading process. Unless very well persevered by freezing and sealing it, the DNA will not be functional. The rupturing of cells, when dead, release nucleases causing damage to DNA. Although “bringing back” the Woolly Mammoth would be a great scientific revelation, it seems infeasible due to the inner workings and preservation of the cells.  Woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) - Mauricio Antón

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1 Comment

  1. deukaryota

    Hi Namurthy, I loved reading your post because it was a very interesting topic and because the way you explained the science behind the scientists’ reasoning was very clear and understandable. This post really put me at ease, since I’m afraid that replicating extinct animals would turn our world into a sort of Jurassic Park, but you’ve explained that the mutations/decomposition of the animals’ DNA due to time, temperature, etc, would make this virtually impossible. After reading your post, I’m interested in how scientists know what wooly mammoths look like at all. According to,frozen%20carcasses%20found%20in%20Siberia. , scientists know what they know from looking at fossils found in the ground. However, I’d be interested to find out how we know that they have hair (instead of blubber, etc) and other features that aren’t usually shown through fossils, since their DNA is not an accurate reflection of what it used to be. Thanks again for your great post!

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