Scientists on the verge of creating hybrid elephant and mammoth

Vatican City: An elephant-mammoth hybrid, genetically engineered without tusks and hardy enough to survive away from Africa or India, could be the key to tackling poaching, scientists believe.

Dozens of mammoth genes have been resurrected by scientists at Harvard University, who are about to publish the first plans to create an artificial womb in which to grow their creation.

Professor George Church, the world-renowned geneticist, and his team have spent the past 11 years recreating the DNA blueprint of the extinct mammoth and are finally ready to release four papers setting out their research.

Using DNA from mammoths preserved in Arctic permafrost, they have found 44 genes that carry traits separating them from elephants, such as a shaggy coat and “antifreeze” blood, which allowed them to survive the Ice Age.

They are hoping to save endangered elephants by creating more hardy mammoth hybrids that can live further north. They also plan to insert non-mammoth genes, which would prevent the animals growing tusks, to prevent poaching, as well as new DNA to allow them to eat a wider diet.

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