The CIA Is Funding a Dallas-Based Company Trying to Bring Back Woolly Mammoths: Report

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo via Getty Images / George Rose / Contributor)

Yes, you read that headline correctly. The CIA is reportedly funding a Dallas-based company that is trying to bring back the wooly mammoths, which have been extinct for centuries.

According to The Intercept, the CIA is investing in biotechnology company Colossal Biosciences in an effort to see the wooly mammoths “thunder upon the tundra once again.” Along with the CIA, others who have already invested in the Dallas-based company are Peter Thiel, Tony Robbins, Paris Hilton, and Winklevoss Capital. 

Colossal further explained that it hopes to use advanced genetic sequencing to resurrect two extinct. These two mammals are the wooly mammoth and the Tasmanian tiger, which died less than a century ago. The company further explains, “Combining the science of genetics with the business of discovery, we endeavor to jumpstart nature’s ancestral heartbeat.”

In-Q-Tel, Colossal’s new investor, is a non-profit venture capital firm that receives funds from the CIA. In a blog post in late September, the company shared why it decided to become a Colossal investor. “Why the interest in a company like Colossal, which was founded with a mission to ‘de-extinct’ the wooly mammoth and other species? Strategically, it’s less about the mammoths and more about the capability.”

Colossal Founder Ben Lamb also spoke about the company’s plans to bring back the wooly mammoths in an email to the media outlet. “Biotechnology and the broader bioeconomy are critical for humanity to further develop. It is important for all facets of our government to develop them and have an understanding of what is possible.”

Texas Company Reveals the Kind of Methods It Will Use to Bring Back Wooly Mammoths 

Colossal further reveals that it is using CRISPR gene editing to help bring back the wooly mammoths. This kind of method is described as genetic engineering based on a naturally occurring type of DNA sequence. 

However, not everyone is really on board with this kind of genetic method or genetic engineering in general. Robert Klizman, a bioethicist at Columbia University remains cautious about genetic engineering. He tells The Intercept, “CRISPR is the use of genetic scissors. You’re going into DNA, which is a 3-billion-molecule-long chain, and clipping some of it out and replacing it. You can clip out bad mutations, and put in good genes, but these editing scissors can also take too much.” 

The Intercept further reports that the size of In-Q-Tel’s stake in Colossal is currently unknown. This will remain undisclosed until the nonprofit releases its financial statement next year. However, the investment may be provided sooner. The venture capital firm says that every dollar it invests in a business attracts 15 more from other investors. 

Co-Founder of Colossal, George Church then shared, “We can clone all kinds of mammals, so it’s very likely that we could clone a human. Why shouldn’t we be able to do so?”

When he was reminded about a ban on human cloning, Church added, “And laws can change, by the way.”