Friday, May 4, 2018

Paging Dr. Frankenstein!

Scientists hope to create a genetically engineered elephant-mammoth hybrid and send it to the Arctic to prevent a so-called “methane time-bomb,” which could cause widespread environmental devastation.

The team at Harvard University believes the hardy animals could one day be released in the vast tundra and boreal stretches of North America and Eurasia. They plan to publish their first paper on the subject in the coming months, The Telegraph reported.
May I suggest introducing them to Central Park in New York first, as a trial run?
Scientists fear that the absence of large mammals pressing down and scraping back thick layers of winter snow in the region prevents the cold from penetrating the soil. Combined with warmer summers, the Arctic permafrost is melting. As a result, the frozen soil, packed with leaves and other organic materials that haven't decayed, will become exposed, releasing carbon into the atmosphere in the form of the greenhouse gasses carbon dioxide and methane.
The so called Arctic Time Bomb hypothesis is  highly implausible; Dr Judith Curry:
"The plausibility of Wadhams’ scenario rests on two assumptions:
  • the ‘spiral of death’ loss of arctic sea ice
  • connection of the sea ice loss to a massive release of methane hydrates into the atmosphere on the time scale of a decade
Each of these assumptions is highly implausible, based upon my understanding; the combination of these two assumptions into a single scenario seems impossible to me."
This threat is widely known as the “methane timebomb," which would create levels of carbon equivalent to burning all of the world’s forests two-and-a-half times over.

As part of a research project world-renowned Harvard geneticist George Church has led for over a decade, the team has taken 44 mammoth genes that became uncovered when ice melted in Siberia.
Genes were uncovered? Heck, they have entire frozen and or mummified mammoths. They ought to be able to get a lot more than 44 genes. By comparison, humans have 19,000 - 20,000 genes, so 44 is a drop in the bucket.
These will be spliced into the Asian elephant genome. Scientists hope the result, which is still many years away if possible at all, will be an elephant with mammoth traits, including blood adapted to the cold, long hair and thick layers of fat that will allow it to live further north.
So, it's not really going to be mammoth, it will be an Indian Elephant with a few modifications that make it look and behave kind of like a mammoth
In other parts of the world, the hybrid animal could save ecosystems threatened by the potential extinction of its close relative the Asian elephant. To prevent poachers from targeting the creature it will be edited to not grow tusks, and will also be able to stomach a wider variety of plants, Professor Church told The Telegraph.
I doubt a mammoth without tusks would be viable ecologically. All the elephants have them, it's pretty clear that evolution has found that they are important to the niche these animals fill.

Paging Dr. Frankenstein!

Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Sunday: Crash Test Girl" up and running at The Other McCain.

1 comment:

  1. For some reason this all makes me think of this