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Should We Bring Back the Extinct?

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Will we soon be hanging out with Wooly Mammoths?

reviveandrestorefoundation, UCSantaCruz, biotech, cloning, extinction, TED, It is no longer a matter of “will” we have the power to re-introduce extinct species, but should we and are we aware of the impact? That is the question many researchers and observers are asking, including Stuart Brand and his Revive and Restore Foundation, who believe that we should bring back extinct species.

Why take the risk? According to the Foundation, there are 4 reasons:

  • To preserve biodiversity and genetic diversity.
  • To undo harm that humans have caused in the past.
  • To restore diminished ecosystems.
  • To advance the science of preventing extinctions.

But let us back up for a moment, because there are some incredible revelations that you may or may not have been aware of when it comes to reviving extinct species.  Biotechnology is moving forward so quickly that members of the Foundation such as George Church, claim to have what they need to bring back species that were extinct in the early 1900’s and of which there are still some samples preserved in museums and other collections. Despite the fact that DNA from back then might by highly fragmented, the technology now exists to fill in those gaps.

Bringing back extinct species is a feat that has actually already happened, as back in 2003 the world’s first reintroduction took place. That animal, the Bucardo, (Iberian wild goat) only lived for 10 minutes.  But in the world of science, this was only the first step in a rapidly advancing field.

Should extinct animals be brought back? In some cases, an extinction took place because of human behavior, a mistake that in some ways could be corrected.  But in other cases, animals went extinct because of environmental changes and there is a debate to be had as to whether or not we should be correcting the environment.  In some crude hollywood way, in the 1990’s the hit film Jurassic Park was a warning (all be it a very fictional over-the-top one) about the side effects of bringing back an extinct species (dinosaurs). However, unlike Jurassic Park, today’s bio tech pioneers aren’t re-introcing the Velociraptor, they’re interested in bringing back  animals that were key to biodiversity and balance in the environment that was lost during destructive periods such as the 20th century.

Dangerous territory? Perhaps.  But what people should be aware of is that the era where this was all fantasy is gone, now is the time to figure out which animals to bring back and why.

Source: World Future Society

Photo: limegreen367 / flickr

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