Biology: Extinction Undone!
Posted by Science on Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 at 3:36 pmin
TASK: Read an article from livescience.com on the topic of cloning and reflect accordingly.
In Incredible Technology: How To Bring Extinct Animal Back To Life, Tanya Lewis explored the possibility of de-extinction through means of cloning by discussing its process, benefits and potential drawbacks. To accomplish such vision, DNA fragments of extinct animals would have to be retrieved and implanted into the genomes of their closest relatives – examples that was examined by the article include inserting the genes of passenger pigeons into those of rock pigeons, and genes of wooly mammoths into those of elephants.
Although this technology is fascinating, and certainly does sci-fi movies such as “Jurassic Park” and “The Lost World” justice, I concur with scientists who assert that it is highly likely for its application to devalue conservation efforts. By knowing that extinct animals can be easily “revived” in labs, governments might not impose as strict of regulations concerning the conservation of ecosystems. Similarly, people might dismiss the issue of animal extinction as insignificant to justify environmental destruction. As quoted by the article, “saving a species through de-extinction when humans are burning forests and destroying native communities is a joke.”
Additionally, animals that face extinction are usually those that were over-hunted and/or unable to adapt to new environments. Resurrecting them, in my opinion, would raise the question of “can they survive?” After all, if the animals could not survive in the past, what makes people think that they will survive after being “resurrected” into the present? The costly procedure is futile if the animals end up not being able to reproduce in our present-day environment, or worse, they might not even survive long enough to do anything – much like the resuscitated Pyrenean Ibex that only managed to survive for minutes.
In conclusion, I personally believe that although the revival of extinct animals has a high entertainment value and the potential to significantly contribute to scientific research, the procedure’s potential failure and drawback of devaluing conservation efforts far outweigh the aforementioned benefits.