If you don’t know what de-extinction is, think Jurassic Park.
Scientists want to bring back the likes of passenger pigeons, dodos and woolly mammoths using a process which would include cloning genes, and cross breeding with similar animals.
In 2003, biologists were able to bring a Pyrenean ibex (a goat-like creature) back to life by making a clone of frozen tissues collected from the last of the species. The clone died within minutes of being born because of a lung deformity, but proved that de-extinction is possible.
Harvard biologist George Church, writer and environmentalist Steward Bran, and founder of the genetics company DNA Direct, Ryan Phelanhave figured out a way to bring back passenger pigeons by gathering fragments of DNA from preserved specimens, and splicing them together with the genome of a rock pigeon. Since the cells would contain passenger pigeon DNA, they could inject this into the rock pigeon eggs. The pigeons that hatch will be rock pigeons, but the offspring of these pigeons would resemble passenger pigeons. Scientists would then breed these birds using specific traits, just like dog breeders do, until they have a pigeon that resembles the passenger pigeon!
Scientists are looking to apply this method to woolly mammoths, by splicing DNA with that of their closest relative, the elephant.
If and when scientists succeed in bringing these animals back from extinction, their next hurdle will be establishing whether or not they can survive in the wild as we know it today.
Stanley Temple of the University of Wisconsin-Madison said:
We can use some of these techniques to actually help endangered species improve their long-term viability.
Not all scientists are hopping on this bandwagon, Stuart Pimm of Duke University said:
It totally ignores the very practical realities of what conservation is about.
He added that it is a “joke” to save species with de-extinction “when humans are burning forests and destroying native communities.”
[Source: The Huffington Post]
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