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Testing De-extinction

Research groups around the world are attempting to resurrect extinct species.

By | November 23, 2013

Thylacines in the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., 1906WIKIMEDIA, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION ARCHIVESThe only ever successful de-extinction was the birth of a baby bucardo (Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica)—a type of ibex specifically adapted to the Pyrenees Mountains in Europe—in 2003, though the young animal died soon after birth because its lungs did not function properly, according to BBC News. The clone was generated using frozen cells harvested in 1999 from the last bucardo, an old female that died in 2000. Now, the BBC reports that the Centre for Research and Food Technology of Aragon (CITA) in Zaragoza, Spain, will begin a new project to examine the burcado frozen cells to determine whether de-extinction efforts ought to be resurrected.

“At this moment, we are not initiating a bucardo recovery plan,” Alberto Fernandez-Arias, the head of the Service of Hunting, Fishing and Wetlands in the Aragon government, told the BBC. “We only want to know if Celia’s cells are still alive after having been maintained frozen during 14 years in liquid nitrogen.” Fernandez-Arias told the story of the 2003 bucardo de-extinction experiment in one of 25 talks at the TEDxDeExtinction meeting held this spring (March 15) in Washington, D.C.

The meeting—organized by a group called Revive and Restore, part of the Long Now Foundation in Santa Cruz, California—brought together researchers planning or executing projects to genetically rescue endangered and extinct species, from the woolly mammoth to the passenger pigeon. In October, researcher Ben Novak announced on Revive and Restore’s blog that the complete passenger pigeon genome was being sequenced, but that’s only the first step to bringing the species back from the brink. “Of course the big goal for us is to understand the genes and the regions of DNA that evolved to make a passenger pigeon the bird that it is, and to begin recreating those elements in a living pigeon genome, the band-tailed pigeon,” Novak wrote.

Michael Archer, a professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia, also spoke at TEDxDeExtinction about his work to bring back the thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus), a marsupial with a dog-like body shape that is sometimes called the “Tasmanian tiger” and became extinct in the 1930s. He’s also using somatic cell nuclear transfer to resurrect a much more recently extinct species (1979), the southern gastric-brooding frog (Rheobatrachus silus). “If it’s clear that we exterminated these species, we not only have a moral obligation to see what we can do about it,” said Archer in his talk, “but I think we’ve got a moral imperative to try to do something if we can.”

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Comments

Avatar of: mandachuva

mandachuva

Posts: 3

November 25, 2013

"a moral imperative.." science is amoral. Never a question wether we should or should not.

Morals is  the realm of philosophy and religion.

Avatar of: aristotelian

aristotelian

Posts: 1

Replied to a comment from mandachuva made on November 25, 2013

November 25, 2013

So? Just because Michael Archer is a scientist, does not mean everything he does has to be scientific. He can make a moral judgment.  He probably should make moral judgments.  You're comments reek of someone who once to seem smarter than everyone else and attempts it by using clichés inappropriately, thus demonstrating that they don't even understand the cliché.

Avatar of: Zero

Zero

Posts: 1

Replied to a comment from mandachuva made on November 25, 2013

November 25, 2013

Morality is the realm of human beings, scientists are human beings as well.

Avatar of: ThomasZ

ThomasZ

Posts: 1

November 26, 2013

I would like to see more about the attempts to bring back the woolly Mammoth and how they are doing. I think this would be a big step, because doing this may save the Elephants that are currently going extinct because of poachers and other man made problems.

Avatar of: dr.mp.mph

dr.mp.mph

Posts: 20

November 26, 2013

This is the first I've heard of scientists wanting to insert or modify the genome of a related organism rather than to attend 'simple' cloning of said organism. Are they attempting to induce the Passenger Pigeon ...genome onto a band-tailed pigeon? Or, would they simply use the bt pigeon to express Passenger pigeon genes? Either way, this is intriguing. Although resurrecting mammoths sounds logistically impractical, I'd leap at the chance to learn about their social interactions, intelligence, and instincts.
Avatar of: rukkus

rukkus

Posts: 1

Replied to a comment from aristotelian made on November 25, 2013

November 27, 2013

 

 

ahem..... *your comments.....

 

 

 

you shouldn't try to insult peoples intelligence if you grammar wrong

 

Avatar of: cnash

cnash

Posts: 1

Replied to a comment from rukkus made on November 27, 2013

November 27, 2013

 

 

Neither should you. ;)

 

Avatar of: Kodi

Kodi

Posts: 1

Replied to a comment from cnash made on November 27, 2013

November 27, 2013

Like you're one to talk. It's "your ignorance is showing" not "you're ignorance is showing" - your hypocrisy is showing...

Avatar of: Nathan Ford

Nathan Ford

Posts: 1

Replied to a comment from mandachuva made on November 25, 2013

November 28, 2013

Science is never amoral. As a human investigation, it is always in the realm of morality. Not to mention the motivation of most scientific investigation is a moral one. Ever heard of cancer research? You don't think MOST if not ALL cancer researchers have a moral motivation to cure it? 

The creation of the atomic bomb should have been where we left this "amoral science" myth behind. What scientists do have moral impacts.

“The physicists have known sin” --J. Robert Oppenheimer, Father of the Atomic Bomb.

Avatar of: Mug

Mug

Posts: 1

November 28, 2013

Looks like I went to a science blog and a grammar argument broke out.
Avatar of: Mike H

Mike H

Posts: 1

November 28, 2013

I agree Mug. But back to mandachuva's comment. I think we should always question wether or not we should do something just because we can, especially in science. Morals play the part of asking the question. I don't really have an issue on if we can, because that can lead to further advancement, but should we?

Take the woolly mammoth for example. It is just one of possibly hundreds of millions of species that have gone extinct over the past several million years. It's time has passed. How can we be so sure that it would even be able to survive in the current enviroment? Besides the temperature, there has also been changes in humidity, atmospheric gases, plant biology, and a whole host of other things that may be toxic to it. So is it right to bring back a species just to watch it die because it can't process the food we feed it? And if we alter the dna so it can survive, is it then not a new species and the whole purpose of watching the social interaction (as ThomasZ said) become moot?

Avatar of: ISN

ISN

Posts: 1

Replied to a comment from mandachuva made on November 25, 2013

November 29, 2013

"science is amoral. Never a question wether we should or should not." -mandachuva. You are clearly not a scientist, and clearly should never be a scientist if you believe scientists are not supposed to contemplate and consider ethics and morals. There are always questions as to whether we should or should not. Please stop speaking out of your behind and putting a bad name to scientists, we are very moral people.

Avatar of: ipoga

ipoga

Posts: 1

November 29, 2013

Like some other have argued, and rightfully so, morality is human, and it is something for each and everyone to consider. With science as with politics, journalism and the amazing power of Spider Man, it is the same - with great power comes great responsibility. And the ability to revive an extinct species is a great power indeed.

It should thus be quite clear that these researchers have a human, moral obligation to examine very closely the ethicality of their research. And this is where I am not sure I agree with Michael Archer. I do not see a straightforward connection between "Humans made this species extinct" and "Humans should revive this species". I do not necessarily disagree with the result, but it's the premise that I don't buy into. I would like to know what everyone else thinks. Can we draw this conclusion? And why?

Avatar of: MikeHawk47

MikeHawk47

Posts: 1

December 7, 2013

Whether or not this science is immoral does not change the fact that it is important for the future of our race. The fact of the matter is, this science is far more beneficial to human kind in its completion than the moral implications of its nature. Should we bring back a dinosaur? No. However if some creature that has the ability to revolutionize an industry or save an eco-system because of some trait it posses, it could infact be more immoral to never see it through to its completion.

Avatar of: JKushner

JKushner

Posts: 2

December 15, 2013

Great article, and really cool stuff here. Check out the article below for more:

www.bionomicfuel/de-extinction-could-extinct-species-once-again-walk-the-earth/

 

 

 

Avatar of: JKushner

JKushner

Posts: 2

December 15, 2013

Great article and really cool stuff here. Check out the article below for more on the subject:

 

www.bionomicfuel.com/de-extinction-could-extinct-species-once-again-walk-the-earth/

 

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