Scientists hope to create a genetically engineered elephant-mammoth hybrid and send it to the Arctic to prevent a so-called “methane time-bomb,” which could cause widespread environmental devastation.
The team at Harvard University believes the hardy animals could one day be released in the vast tundra and boreal stretches of North America and Eurasia. They plan to publish their first paper on the subject in the coming months, The Telegraph reported.
Scientists fear that the absence of large mammals pressing down and scraping back thick layers of winter snow in the region prevents the cold from penetrating the soil. Combined with warmer summers, the Arctic permafrost is melting. As a result, the frozen soil, packed with leaves and other organic materials that haven’t decayed, will become exposed, releasing carbon into the atmosphere in the form of the greenhouse gasses carbon dioxide and methane.