Mammoths may walk among us very soon. Thanks to the efforts of researches from Harvard Medical School, McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, and the Swedish Museum of Natural History, DNA from dead woolly mammoths has led to the sequencing of this long-tusked animal’s entire genome. Yes, our long-lost friends the mammoths could very well suffer “de-extinction” and roam free once again.
That’s good news for mammoths, I guess, but not such great news for the female elephants forced to act as mammoth-hybrid surrogates, and perhaps — down the line — human beings as well. The problem is, when people introduce or reintroduce a species to a new environment (environments change over time), havoc is often the result. From cane toads and feral foxes in Australia to mountain goats in Washington State’s Olympic National Park to gray wolves terrorizing farmers, harm to ecosystems often ensue.
Now imagine herds of mammoths running amok. If that’s what’s in store for us, scientists will have to find a predator to keep the mammoth populations in check — or from migrating to warmer, dense-with-human climate zones as creatures that are a mix of mammoth and Asian elephant might prefer hotter locales. So naturally, we’ll have to bring saber-toothed tigers back from extinction to help us cut down on our huge mammoth problem.
But maybe (bear with me here), our saber-toothed predators might experience a massive population explosion, thanks to a plentiful mammoth and human food source. We could hunt them, a sharpshooter’s wet dream, but what if they turn out to be much more elusive and intelligent than we’d anticipated? We’ll simply have to dip back into the gene pool of extinct animals and come up with an even smarter, more fearsome predator to go after all of our saber-toothed cats. And presto! Some genius in an underground lab somewhere figures out how to cross a pterodactyl with a condor, and we’ll end up with a fleet of … well, bloody dragons, roaming the sky, looking for lunch. Game of Thrones fans will rejoice.
Sound ridiculous? Yeah, it probably is. But just remember, it all started with bringing those pesky mammoths back to life. Fun with genetics isn’t always fun for everyone — Homo sapiens and an awful lot of other species included. Sounds like the premise for a good movie, though …
This article was originally published in The Blot Magazine.