It’s been 10 millennia since the last woolly mammoth roamed the North American mainland—though a handful managed to survive on nearby islands for a few thousand more years. Either way, the species is gone forever. Or maybe not. A team of researchers at Colossal Biosciences, led by the company’s head of biological sciences, Eriona Hysolli, aims to effectively de-extinct the mammoth before the end of this decade. In 2022, Hysolli and her team announced that they had sequenced the entire genome of the Asian elephant, which shares 99.8% of its genes with the mammoth. Manipulating the genome to add traits like smaller ears, additional body fat, and, of course, the woolly coat that allowed the mammoth to thrive in the tundra, the researchers could then implant a woolly mammoth embryo in the womb of a modern-day elephant. The technique could eventually be used to restore other extinct species like the dodo, or protect those that are endangered, including the Bengal tiger. That potential has generated excitement among investors, and the company raised an additional $150 million to fund its work earlier this year.
Correction: The original version of this story mischaracterized Colossal Biosciences’ fundraising. The company raised $150 million in funding earlier this year; that is not the amount it plans to raise.
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