POLL: Should We Revive Extinct Species?



It sounds like something from a sci-fi B-Movie: scientists have moved a step closer to bringing the Tasmanian tiger back from extinction.

Also known as the thylacine, or Tasmanian wolf, the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial died out in its native land sometime during the 1930s. Despite almost 4,000 reports of “sightings” since, including tantalisingly inconclusive video footage as recently as 2008, most regard the species as having gone for ever.

So the mapping of the thylacine’s genetic sequence, which in theory makes cloning the living animal itself possible, raises tricky questions. How far should we go to reverse the tide of extinction? And what ecological and ethical issues might this raise?

Back from the dead … a clone of the Tasmanian tiger could walk the Earth again, 80 years after it was declared extinct. Photograph: Popperfoto/Getty Images

Professor Andrew Pask of the University of Melbourne, who led the team sequencing the thylacine’s DNA, has no doubts about bringing back lost species, seeing a clear moral obligation to do so. “We were responsible for hunting [the thylacine] to extinction – in that case, we almost owe it to the species to bring it back”.

Others are less sure. Some have accused scientists of “playing God”, while even National Geographic ran the cover headline “Reviving Extinct Species. We Can. But Should We?”

But such concerns may be too late, as the genie is already out of the bottle. Scientists in Cape Town recently announced that the quagga, a dark subspecies of the familiar zebra that went extinct more than a century earlier, had been revived. The team used selective breeding of zebras, which showed characteristics of their lost cousin, to “reverse engineer” the quagga into existence.

The resulting creature certainly looks like a quagga, even if it is not an exact genetic match. Critics claim that although you can breed for similar appearance, you cannot recreate the animal’s behaviour and ecology. The same may be true of a project to revive the woolly mammoth, which has yet to progress beyond the early stages.

So what next? I’d personally love to see great auks swimming around St Kilda, or a dodo back on Mauritius. But I’m not holding my breath.

As for the thylacine itself, even if science could make cloning possible, the discovery that the animal’s genetic health was compromised, at some point in its long history, means that any cloned animals are unlikely to survive, especially back in the wild.

This article was first published by The Guardian on 17 Dec 2017.


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Should We Revive Extinct Species?

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Editorial Comment: The purpose of this poll is to highlight important wildlife conservation issues and to encourage discussion on ways to stop wildlife crime. By leaving a comment and sharing this post you can help to raise awareness. Thank you for your support.

 

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Theresa Kemp

I adore all life but in this case I would say no. Recreating doesnt replace and as they say, it would be the same animal only in appearance.

What we should be doing is looking forward to what we have now so that it doesn’t become extinct. Save what is already in danger, and that which is coming close.

Change man’s behaviour towards animals, worldwide.

Andre Arroyos

p

Joelle Jojo Mamour Barrier

V NON alors ils suppriment avec leurs chasses et leurs crimes sur les animaux qui sont sur terre pour en faire revenir des espèces éteintent par la faute de l homme

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

as good as this sounds in theory, we cannot save the species we have struggling here now and whatever habitats are left, wont be soon.

Isabelle Fernandès

Cela ressemble à quelque chose d’un film de science-fiction B-Movie: les scientifiques ont fait un pas de plus pour ramener le tigre de Tasmanie de l’extinction. Aussi connu sous le nom de thylacine, ou loup de Tasmanie, le plus grand marsupial carnivore du monde s’est éteint dans sa terre natale au cours des années 1930. Malgré près de 4 000 signalements d ‘«observations» depuis, y compris des séquences vidéo terriblement peu concluantes en 2008, la plupart considèrent que l’espèce a disparu pour toujours. Ainsi, la cartographie de la séquence génétique du thylacine, qui en théorie rend possible le clonage de… Read more »

Yes. The great Pleistocene extinctions coincided too comfortably with human invasion of the Americas. More recently, the US almost extinguished numerous species, devastating ecosystesm – simplifying them, making them less resilient. This also includes actual oceanic species, like all the larger baleen and toothed whales. While many have slowly recovered – due to banning whaling on the most depleted species since 1964, the incredible crush of humanity as always slavering at the possibility of taking these animals with brains far larger than ours (you may have to be conversant with the goings-on in some other nations to get a proper… Read more »

Debby Lindsay

The enviroment and habitats have changed drastically and they could endanger other species or themselves again. Nature needs to be left alone and learn from our mistakes and protect what we have and make tougher laws to protect.

Hubert Mollaret

Before thinking about reviving extinct species we should endeavour to prevent nearly extinct ones from disappearing, which is a big challenge already as human pressure is increasing every day and what the point of bringing back to life a creature if its original habitat is threatened or destroyed?

Adrian Kettle

We can’t even look after what we’ve got, so no.

Maki Murakami

If we are to bring back extinct species, we have to ensure better protection for their old habitat.

Cheetah Girl

They went extinct for a reason no in my opinion