Most of us are familial with “Jurassic Park,” which brought cloned dinosaurs back to current-day Earth. But “Pleistocene Park”? That’s what scientists are calling an imagined frozen corner of Siberia, where there would be a wildlife refuge for an ancient ecosystem that could slow global warming.
They would have cold-resistant animals who can graze and trumple the tundra, which exposes the underlying soil to frigid air and protects it from a thaw that would let carbon gases into the atmosphere. Animals that are checked okay for this cold-weather haven are bison, oxen, moose, horses and reindeer. But scientists say that one thing is missing—wooly mammoths.
It sounds crazy but some scientists want to clone the wooly mammoth from ancient DNA. Never mind that live, usable DNA still hasn’t been recovered from any frozen mammoth. One team of scientists is trying to clone the giant animal but creating a mammoth egg and inserting it in an elephant’s uterus. The other teams are attempting gene splicing with existing elephants. They admit that the goal wouldn’t be achieved until the far future, if at all.
While the clone-happy scientists dream on, environmentalists want to know how we would find the right foods to feed the mammoth, how we would provide it company (clone more mammoths?), would an elephant be an effective or even tolerant mother to a mammoth baby, how it would relate to other animals around it, and is the air is right for such ancient animals to breath? The earth has gone through a lot of changes since wooly mammoths walked the earth.
Fun to think about, but I think this scientific fantasy is just that—a fantasy.