Scientists successfully add woolly mammoth DNA into elephant

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Scientists Add Woolly Mammoth DNA to Elephant Cells

The woolly mammoth has been extinct for some 4,000 years ago, but now, researchers are attempting to bring it back to life.

A team at Harvard University has successfully inserted woolly mammoth DNA into the genetic code of an elephant.

The project was led by Harvard genetics professor George Church. He told The Sunday Times, "We prioritized genes associated with cold resistance including hairiness, ear size, subcutaneous fat and, especially, hemoglobin."

Church has spoken about this type of genetic splicing in elephants before.

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Scientists successfully add woolly mammoth DNA into elephant
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: Brett Crawford (top) and Matt Fair as carefully deconstruct the vertabrae of a Wooly Mammoth skeleton at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC on October 20, 2014. It's all part of an overall renovation of the museum's Fossil Halls. All of the dinosaur skeletons are being disassembled, refurbished and repositioned and will reappear at the Smithsonian museum in 2019. This dinosaur exhibit has been on display since the late 70's / early 80's. The Mammoth skeleton is a combination of bones of several Mammoths found in Alaska; some dating back to 1930's. Any parts that were missing or damaged were filled in with a wax/wood substance. The crew from Research Casting International will ship the skeleton to Canada where it will undergo refurbishing, repositioning and then returned to the museum for the new exhibit. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: Paleo Biology curator Matthew Carrano near the foot of a Wooly Mammoth skeleton being deconstructed at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC on October 20, 2014. It's all part of an overall renovation of the museum's Fossil Halls. All of the dinosaur skeletons are being disassembled, refurbished and repositioned and will reappear at the Smithsonian museum in 2019. This dinosaur exhibit has been on display since the late 70's / early 80's. The Mammoth skeleton is a combination of bones of several Mammoths found in Alaska; some dating back to 1930's. Any parts that were missing or damaged were filled in with a wax/wood substance. The crew from Research Casting International will ship the skeleton to Canada where it will undergo refurbishing, repositioning and then returned to the museum for the new exhibit. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: Peter May lays down the foot bones of a Wooly Mammoth skeleton being deconstructed at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC on October 20, 2014. It's all part of an overall renovation of the museum's Fossil Halls. All of the dinosaur skeletons are being disassembled, refurbished and repositioned and will reappear at the Smithsonian museum in 2019. This dinosaur exhibit has been on display since the late 70's / early 80's. The Mammoth skeleton is a combination of bones of several Mammoths found in Alaska; some dating back to 1930's. Any parts that were missing or damaged were filled in with a wax/wood substance. The crew from Research Casting International will ship the skeleton to Canada where it will undergo refurbishing, repositioning and then returned to the museum for the new exhibit. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: Portion of the jaw bone, with worn down molars, of a Wooly Mammoth skeleton being deconstructed at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC on October 20, 2014. It's all part of an overall renovation of the museum's Fossil Halls. All of the dinosaur skeletons are being disassembled, refurbished and repositioned and will reappear at the Smithsonian museum in 2019. This dinosaur exhibit has been on display since the late 70's / early 80's. The Mammoth skeleton is a combination of bones of several Mammoths found in Alaska; some dating back to 1930's. Any parts that were missing or damaged were filled in with a wax/wood substance. The crew from Research Casting International will ship the skeleton to Canada where it will undergo refurbishing, repositioning and then returned to the museum for the new exhibit. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: View of an exhibit rendering of prehistoric mammals, among them a Wooly Mammoth (top right), whose skeleton was deconstructed today at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC on October 20, 2014. It's all part of an overall renovation of the museum's Fossil Halls. All of the dinosaur skeletons are being disassembled, refurbished and repositioned and will reappear at the Smithsonian museum in 2019. This dinosaur exhibit has been on display since the late 70's / early 80's. The Mammoth skeleton is a combination of bones of several Mammoths found in Alaska; some dating back to 1930's. Any parts that were missing or damaged were filled in with a wax/wood substance. The crew from Research Casting International will ship the skeleton to Canada where it will undergo refurbishing, repositioning and then returned to the museum for the new exhibit. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: (top) Crews remove an ulna and humerus of a Wooly Mammoth skeleton being deconstructed at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC on October 20, 2014. It's all part of an overall renovation of the museum's Fossil Halls. All of the dinosaur skeletons are being disassembled, refurbished and repositioned and will reappear at the Smithsonian museum in 2019. This dinosaur exhibit has been on display since the late 70's / early 80's. The Mammoth skeleton is a combination of bones of several Mammoths found in Alaska; some dating back to 1930's. Any parts that were missing or damaged were filled in with a wax/wood substance. The crew from Research Casting International will ship the skeleton to Canada where it will undergo refurbishing, repositioning and then returned to the museum for the new exhibit. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: Colleene Rowley (cqd) encases and secures in foam the bones of a Wooly Mammoth skeleton after deconstruction at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC on October 20, 2014. It's all part of an overall renovation of the museum's Fossil Halls. All of the dinosaur skeletons are being disassembled, refurbished and repositioned and will reappear at the Smithsonian museum in 2019. This dinosaur exhibit has been on display since the late 70's / early 80's. The Mammoth skeleton is a combination of bones of several Mammoths found in Alaska; some dating back to 1930's. Any parts that were missing or damaged were filled in with a wax/wood substance. The crew from Research Casting International will ship the skeleton to Canada where it will undergo refurbishing, repositioning and then returned to the museum for the new exhibit. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
The frozen carcass of a 39,000-year-old female woolly mammoth named Yuka from the Siberian permafrost is displayed for an exhibition in Yokohama, suburban Tokyo on July 12, 2013 at a press preview before the opening. The carcass will be shown to the public during an exhibition at Pacifico Yokohama from July 13 to September 16. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
Children gaze at the woolly mammoth model at a display opening at the Taiwan National Democracy Hall, in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, July 11, 2008. Included with the display are the frozen remains of two woolly mammoths, long extinct elephants in the Ice Age uncovered from the Siberian permafrost. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
In this photo taken on Thursday, May 22, 2014, British artist Damien Hirst's latest piece entitled "Gone but Not Forgotten", which features the gilded skeleton of a woolly mammoth in a steel and glass vitrine, is displayed at an amfAR event in Cap d'Antibes, southern France. Famed British artist Damien Hirst created the gilded woolly mammoth skeleton encased in a gold tank to be auctioned off at the annual amfAR Cinema Against AIDS gala. (AP Photo/Nekesa Moody)
A hairy mammoth bull, right, cow and calf, with trees and snow in the background, is part of a scene from "Prehistoric Kansas," at Dyche Museum in Kansas City, Mo., in this 1938 file photo. A Michigan researcher at a conference Wednesday, Oct. 16, 1996, said recent studies of woolly mammoth tusks suggest that overhunting is the cause of the case of the vanishing mammoths which has troubled paleontologists for years. (AP Photo/file)
The tusks of what is believed to be a 23,000 year old woolly mammoth are carried on a reindeer sled in this picture made in early October 1999. The tusks come from the body of a woolly mammoth preserved in the ice in the Taimyr Peninsula, Siberia, Russia, 200 miles (320 kms) from the Siberian city of Khatanga. By studying its teeth, scientists determined that the 11 foot (3.3 meter) tall mammoth would have been 47 years old. The nearly perfectly preserved adult male excavated from the permafrost in a block of ice was flown to Khatanga on Oct. 17, 1999, where it will be kept frozen and studied by scientists. (AP Photo/Francis Latreille/Nova Productions)
File photo dated 23/09/14 of James Rylands, Auctioneer and Director of Summers Place Auctions in West Sussex, preparing the skeleton of an Ice Age Woolly Mammoth, which could fetch £250,000 when it is auctioned today.
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"We would propose to make a hybrid elephant that has the best features of modern elephants and the best features of mammoths."

The Asian elephant is the closest relative to mammoths, although the size of mammoths was similar to that of the larger African elephant.

Church's project isn't without its critics, though.

Some scientists are against using elephants to potentially bring back the woolly mammoths. Professor Alex Greenwood told The Telegraph: "Why bring back another elephantid from extinction when we cannot even keep the ones that are not extinct around? What is the message? We can be as irresponsible with the environment as we want. Then we'll just clone things back?"

The Harvard-led project has not yet been submitted to a journal because the research is ongoing.

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