Bringing Back Extinct Species

June 25, 2013


About a month or so ago, it seemed as though I was coming across many articles and talks like THIS about using technology to bring back extinct species, such as the Passenger Pigeon or the Thylacine, or even a Woolly Mammoth.  What an exciting prospect, right?

I for one would be completely enthralled to see a live Passenger Pigeon, Thylacine, or even a Dodo. Creatures that long ago, through humanity's actions, were wiped from the earth and since have gained iconic, and mythical stature. And then there is the comforting thought that extinction no longer has to really be final. Humanity can be forgiven our trespasses with nature and start over again. Right?

That would be nice, but one thing that I don't like, and this is especially the case of the TED talk linked above, is that the various pitfalls "de-extinction" are not being discussed thoroughly; at least not publicly. For example, in the case of the Passenger Pigeon, the habitats in which it flourished no longer exist. The North American landscape is so altered that there is this question: how could a species that used to live in such tremendous numbers that its flocks could blacken the skies for miles, exist in today's fragmented landscapes?

And if we are just going to bring a few back for the sack of novelty? No doubt that the process and technology required to do this, let alone "de-extinct" something is a very expensive endeavor. Wouldn't that money be better spent on flora and fauna currently at risk of extinction and preserving habitats? It might be better to accept that once something is gone...it is gone for good.

That said...I would really like a Woolly Mammoth as a pet.






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