Harvard University scientist George Church and his team have been using DNA recovered from one of the long-extinct beasts that was found perfectly preserved in Arctic ice after dying 42,000 years ago.
Professor Church said that by merging genes from the woolly mammoths with that of elephants, their species may be resurrected.
Speaking to The Sun Online, he said: “We have already revived dozens of genes and are testing them in elephant cells.
“We are focusing on a reviving mammoth genes and making a mammoth/elephant hybrid and help them spread to vast wild, arctic climates.”
Professor Church and his team of scientists are using a gene-editing technique to “cut and paste” strands of DNA into elephant stem cells to eventually develop the embryo of a woolly mammoth.
He believes that within two years he can grow a woolly mammoth and elephant hybrid within an artificial womb as opposed to using a female elephant as a surrogate mum.
If the cloning attempts are successful, they would be taken to Pleistocene Park, a 20,000 hectare zone in the furthest stretches of remote Siberia, currently being developed by Russian scientists in a bid to recreate an Ice Age ecosystem.
Park Director and scientist Nikita Zimov had previously told The Sun Online: “By the time mammoths will be cloned, if they’re cloned and brought to the park, we will have a system.
“They’ll eat shrubs, break down shrubs. They’ll trample down the grass, eat the grass. The park is to show animals can transform the vegetation.”
Alongside once again seeing woolly mammoth herds plodding about the Arctic, it is hoped the mammals will also create an environment that could prevent Siberia’s permafrost melting and then unleashing billions of tons of lethal greenhouse gases.
Permafrost is ground at or below the freezing point of water (0°C) for more than two years.
This melting process has been dubbed the “methane bomb” because should it occur, it would dramatically impact on climate change, melt the ice cap and potentially flood countries around the world.
Bubble-like mounds have been emerging with some bursting and spewing out toxic gas.
But much of the methane is still trapped underneath by the permafrost layer which is disappearing quickly and threatening to release the gas at any given time.
If the mammoth/elephant hybrids could be brought back to life, Professor Church believes they could repopulate these freezing wastelands and help lock in the deadly toxins.
“Cold-resistant elephants would flatten the insulating snow and supporting trees in winter and favour the highly heat reflective grass in summer.
“They would also help capture new carbon by enhancing the photosynthetic capacity of the vegetation.”