Posts Tagged ‘science’
The CBC feature “Species de-extinction plagued by ‘looming questions,’ expert says” does a good job outlining the problems associated with using preserved DNA to bring back extinct species.
Axel Moehrenschlager, a biologist at the Centre for Conservation Research at the Calgary Zoo and an associate professor of biology at the University of Calgary, says that de-extinction is a fascinating possibility, but one that should be approached cautiously.
“There are potentially many issues in bringing a species back … But our primary concern is, if we were to bring something back, why are we doing it? Are we doing it because it’s something cool to do, or because it’s valuable for the ecosystem?” Moehrenschlager said an interview that airs on CBC’s Quirks & Quarks on Saturday.
Moehrenschlager was part of an international team of scientists that published a paper in March in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution that outlined 10 vital questions that scientists should ask before selecting candidate species for de-extinction.
“One of the things about species – when you put species back – is that they do things in that ecosystem and those things can potentially be useful or could be potentially damaging,” he says.
“In some cases bringing a species back could restore an ecological function that has been lost. But in other cases, in the wrong environment, it could make extinct species invasive and very damaging.”
What of hybrid species? Mammoth-elephant hybrids would be likely, but also wouldn’t be natives to the wild.
There’s also the huge ethical issue of bringing back smart species. Mammoths, if modern elephants are anything to go by, would have been quite smart animals deeply embedded in a culture. How can this culture possibly be recreated? And you just know that someone is going to try to bring back the Neanderthals and Denisovans …
What do you think about species de-extinction? Is it a good idea, or is it merely inevitable?