Just some wild elements in all of this, as relayed by Carl Zimmer for The New York TImes:
Dr. Church, who is best known for inventing ways of reading and editing DNA, wondered if he could effectively revive an extinct species by rewriting the genes of a living relative. Because Asian elephants and mammoths share a common ancestor that lived about six million years ago, Dr. Church thought it might be possible to modify the genome of an elephant to produce something that would look and act like a mammoth.
Beyond scientific curiosity, he argued, revived woolly mammoths could help the environment. Today, the tundra of Siberia and North America where the animals once grazed is rapidly warming and releasing carbon dioxide. “Mammoths are hypothetically a solution to this,” Dr. Church argued in his talk.
Today the tundra is dominated by moss. But when woolly mammoths were around, it was largely grassland. Some researchers have argued that woolly mammoths were ecosystem engineers, maintaining the grasslands by breaking up moss, knocking down trees and providing fertilizer with their droppings.
The idea has a few precedents. At the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, researchers have developed a sealed bag that can support a fetal lamb for four weeks, for example. But Colossal will need to build an artificial uterus big enough to house a fetus for around two years, reaching a weight of 200 pounds.