Bring Back the Wooly Mammoth? Yes Please, but Don’t Stop There.

One summer, when I was about 10 years old, I read Robert Heinlein’s novels Starbeast, and Between Planets. From that moment, I was hooked. Science fiction became my literature of choice, was a huge influence on me, and a big part of why I chose Engineering as a career.

One of the themes of science fiction is the use of genetic engineering and cloning to resurrect extinct species. The original idea was that you’d replace the genes in a fertilized ovum with those from an animal frozen in ice, implant it in a similar animal and, boom, resurrection.

Later came the Jurassic Park concept, that you would splice extinct species’ DNA into existing, similar code, to the same effect. Turns out that Michael Crichton pretty much nailed it.

Resurrecting the Wooly Mammoth

The Wooly Mammoth is genetically 99.8% the same as the Asian elephant, and European scientists claim to be close to bringing back the Wooly Mammoth using the Jurassic Park method.

Wouldn’t that be cool?

If it works, we can use the technology to preserve endangered species, and resurrect other extinct species and return some of the biodiversity we’ve lost since the onset of the Industrial Revolution.

But that’s not all.

Man suffers a host of genetic disorders, from simple things like colour blindness, to more serious things like haemophilia, to really nasty stuff like the trisomies.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to edit them out of the human genetic code?

The ethical use of this technology could be a boon to mankind. Of course, the misuse of it could be the end of mankind, but that’s a topic for another day.