In five years, scientists could create a “cold-resistant elephant” (mammoth) embryo. Gestation in the womb of an Asian elephant surrogate would take another two years. So says Dr. George Church, a Harvard University biologist.
The mammoth midwives would use CRISPR technology, a breakthrough in DNA sequencing, to mirror Asian elephant genes to the genome of the woolly mammoth. Church makes it sound simple: “We could easily make tens of thousands of these elephants.”
Although the genetic basis for the cold-resistant elephants would be the mammoth, Church says that the goals are to protect Asian elephants and to stabilize Arctic habitats. The Asian elephant population is dwindling for deforestation and herpes. Having elephants graze in the tundra would reduce carbon emissions by keeping soil temperatures low.
Here’s an excerpt of what Church said in an interview with the Huffington Post:
CRISPR turned out to be easier than expected. The growing of embryos is harder to predict. I would say it will probably take us five years to work out the embryo development part, and then it takes at least two years to go through full gestation. So we might be seeing the first new baby elephants in seven years. Maybe a decade. That’s pretty soon…
I call them cold-resistant Asian elephants. What are unambiguously woolly mammoths are the DNA we’re drawing inspiration from and literally moving from the computer back into Asian elephants. What the hybrid will be called will be up to popular decision making that’s outside of my realm. I’m not going to call them mammoths unless somebody insists. They’re elephants with mammoth DNA.
Overlooking the floodplain toward Sugar Creek Garden in Decatur, Ga.
Oakhurst Park isn’t the only green space in Oakhurst. Sugar Creek Garden is nestled off of East Lake Drive behind Oakhurst Presbyterian Church. Drivers can park at the lower level of the church’s parking lot. Pedestrians can too, or they can enter the long way through a gate on 3rd Avenue.
While visiting the community garden today on an unseasonably warm 72 degree December day, we spotted oregano, dill, and thyme. There’s an outdoor sink to wash vegetables and a solar-powered pump. The garden is funded by the Wylde Center, a Decatur nonprofit.
Beyond the garden is a floodplain maintained by the City. When it’s dry it would be a good spot for Frisbee or pick-up soccer. The glade sits between the backs of the homes on 3rd and 2nd Avenue.
Running alongside the gardens and the glade is tributary in a flume that feeds into Sugar Creek. (Sugar Creek feeds into the Ocmulgee and Altamaha River to the Atlantic.) A berm juts upward on the other side of the flume behind the long backyards of the homes on 2nd Avenue. There are a couple benches on top of the berm if you’re creative and spry enough to get up there. The tributary leads underneath 2nd Avenue southwest into Atlanta and another Wylde Center Garden, Hawk Hollow, not so far away.
The southern edge of the glade borders 615 3rd Avenue, an old brick apartment complex owned by an Ethiopian businessman. Between the apartment complex and the flume are some holly trees and a fence with signs warning people to stay out of the park during floods.
If you’ve never been to Sugar Creek Garden, this is a good time because there’s a Christmas tree lot behind the church near the garden. If you buy a tree or wreath, proceeds go to the boy scouts.