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The "De-Extinction" Debate

Discussion in 'Debate Forum' started by Kung Fu Ferret, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. Kung Fu Ferret

    Kung Fu Ferret The Great Dreamer

    Should scientists attempt to clone animals that went extinct relatively recently in Earth's history, yet still have a decent amount of DNA intact in certain specimens?

    To be fair, most of the animals that scientists can try bringing back to life were ultimately killed off, at least to an extent, by humans. This means that it would be nearly, if not completely, impossible, to clone dinosaurs.

    A team of Japanese scientists are trying to clone the iconic woolly mammoths, since their remains have been found in such conditions in the Siberian permafrost.

    The Pyrenean ibex (which went extinct back in 2000) was temporarily brought back from extinction thanks to cloning. However, the cloned individual had health problems, only surviving for seven minutes.

    I think it sounds like a good idea to clone certain extinct species to bring them back, to an extent. However, if said species died out due to a severe case of climate change and/or habitat loss, then it should probably be left extinct.

    I support cloning the species of Pleistocene megafauna that have been found preserved in the vast tundra, such as woolly rhinos, giant bison, mammoths and Eurasian cave lions (assuming we have adequate space set aside in their former habitat for repopulation of said species).

    The only argument against de-extinction that I can think of is that some species that were killed off by humans wouldn't be able to survive in the modern world due to the large amount human activity in recent years.
  2. Scammel

    Scammel Well-Known Member

    I've no ethical issues on paper. I'm not sure what the ecological value of megafauna would be in the modern context, but I'm sure there's plenty of scope for more recently extinct (not to mention still-living species) to be introduced to certain ecosystems to address particular imbalances.

    That said, I think any proposals along these lines need to be couched in the language of public value where public money is on the line. I'm sure there are countless indirect benefits to creating a living mammoth population, but you need to be able to tell minimum-wage taxpayers why you're investing in a potential white elephant (har har) and not, say, public transport. Private funding is fine.
  3. U.N. Owen

    U.N. Owen In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night ...

    I'm a person who believes that there must be a predator for every prey and vice versa. I fully support inserting clone animals into the wild if it is to fix ecological problems as caused by human development, but we as a species must be wary of overpopulation of these animals, lest we cause an ecological problem with a supposed ecological solution.
  4. chess-z

    chess-z campy vampire

    Ultimately it doesn't seem all too unethical. This really isn't one of the more pressing concerns involving genetic engineering and CRISPR. Call me when we get into Gene Drive and causing extinctions instead of reversing them.
  5. Sadib

    Sadib Time Lord Victorious

    Imagine all the delicious new animals! Eating them would be the first thought. If we were receiving humanoid creatures, we'd be wondering if we could reproduce with them.
  6. Kung Fu Ferret

    Kung Fu Ferret The Great Dreamer

    This may have happened with Neanderthals and the ancestors of modern-day humans. Not sure if I believe it or not.
  7. Bolt the Cat

    Bolt the Cat Bringing the Thunder

    Well my main concern with this would be bringing predatory dinosaurs back to life (imagine if we had T-Rexes running around in the modern world, that would definitely cause major ecological damage), but if that's an impossibility I have no major issue with bringing animals back to life. It'd be interesting to see long extinct species like woolly mammoths or dodos brought back to life, and it could really help undo some of the damage humanity's done to the world.
  8. Auraninja

    Auraninja Try to understand.

    The problem of bringing an extinct specimen back to life is that you couldn't substain a population unless you cloned many different specimens, and that would require a lot of funding and resources.

    If you want to study specimen behavior, that's one thing, but I doubt you could study population dyanmics, or much less, bring a sustainable population back to the wild.
  9. snorlax512

    snorlax512 Well-Known Member

    You could make a Jurassic Park
  10. bobjr

    bobjr It's Fusion, I don't have to expalin it. Staff Member Moderator

    The main issue with bringing dinosaurs back to life is that DNA has a half life of a few million years I think. You could take similar DNA and change it in theory, but at what point do they stop becoming Dinosaurs and become something else entirely? That's actually the focus of the book version of Jurassic Park, which really deserves a read.
  11. Auraninja

    Auraninja Try to understand.

    I kind of went beyond that technical aspect to reach another technical aspect.

    There are so many roadblocks, from what you mentioned from the DNA portion to what I mentioned in the population portion. I think it would be impossible to fully resurrect an extinct species.
  12. U.N. Owen

    U.N. Owen In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night ...

    Let's not forget the little genetic variation. DNA isn't some lego set what we can force together. How can we sustain the species for more than one generation, let alone revive a freaking species?
  13. Bolt the Cat

    Bolt the Cat Bringing the Thunder

    It's not like that really worked out well. As those movies show, it'd be very difficult to keep them under control. They're several times larger than us and could easily cause countless murders and mass destruction to society. And that's not even getting into the ecological consequences brought up in this thread, if T-Rexes are out in the wild hunting other animals, how long before other species of animals go extinct? Smaller species of animals like the ones we're familiar with prospered precisely because nature wiped dinosaurs off the map, bringing them back could cause radical changes to the entire animal population.
  14. bobjr

    bobjr It's Fusion, I don't have to expalin it. Staff Member Moderator

    The movies are kind of a bad example. As much as I love the movie it skims over the really important issues, and outside of Ned legit sabotaging the park it would have worked out much bigger than the book version, where dinosaurs have escaped onto mainland America months ago.

    Either way something that has been extinct for some significant amount of time would have to be the theme park version and nothing else.
  15. Isn't reverse genetic engineering a thing now? That article about the embryonic chicken with teeth comes to mind. I just don't want to give up on this, all I've ever wanted is to walk around ducky from land before time like a dog on the sidewalk. ;_;

    This is a good post.

    This is awful but I love it.

    In my opinion, I think bringing back the largest dinosaurs makes more sense. Smaller species that can hide in the brush would be kind of a nightmare if they became invasive. I don't think any group of T-Rex's even if they did escape would be lucky enough to survive long enough for a successful breeding population. We're pretty good at wiping out big animals - Buffalo, wolves, elephants, etc.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  16. bobjr

    bobjr It's Fusion, I don't have to expalin it. Staff Member Moderator

    Well it is a ethical/philosophical question just as much as it is a hard science question. It's kinda like saying if you take two identical people DNA wise and raise them in completely different areas would they still be the same person.

    This is also in Jurassic Park the book, the smaller dinosaurs have been sneaking off the island in small doses and wrecking havoc on local ecosystems, and while the big famous dinosaurs tend to be more of a thing in the heroes way they're not an outside threat to the world.
  17. Chidzz

    Chidzz Well-Known Member

    I reckon de-extinction, especially of Pleistocene megafauna, could have massive ecological implications. Below are my arguments agains this (excluding the massive costs of the process0.

    First of all, the process is near impossible. Cloning requires a living surrogate (there are none for extinct animals), and even if it was possible, the individual would likely not survive for long at all (see Dolly and the Pyrenean ibex). DNA is not immune to telomeric degradation even when "preserved" in ice. This means you would theoretically be bringing back a 13-year old (for example) animal in a newborn's body. Thus the premature incidence of organ failure and typical symptoms of ageing and ultimately death is inevitable.

    But let's assume we successfully cloned the animal. How do we go about resurrecting an entire viable population? The DNA available of these species is scarce and cloning multiple individuals from a tiny gene pool leads to a seriously low genetic diversity amongst the population. This could leave the population highly susceptible to even small threats that could threaten their success as a species (see DFTD in Tasmanian devils).

    introductions of species has seen widespread ecological impacts all over the world. invasive pests and diseases have caused many animals to become extinct or threatened (chytrid fungus, feral foxes in Aus, etc.) . And these are all species we know of and have studies for years, but their effects still remain a threat to many ecosystems. Ressurecting animals that we have minimal knowledge regarding their biology and (more importantly) their behaviour could create unprecedented ecological disturbances that threaten more species than are resurrected.

    Lastly, a paper I've read combining the studies of ecology, psychology and ethics have pointed out the sense of complacency that humans would experience in light of the de-extinction of species. Humans would forever think of this as an 'ecological reset button' and conservation efforts would be taken as seriously as they need to be by researchers and the general public.
  18. Trainer Yusuf

    Trainer Yusuf VolcaniNO


    Yeah, this whole de-extinction idea isn't new so almost everything has already been discussed. There just hasn't been much of a success IRL, though, outside of Nazi cows.
  19. Captain Jigglypuff

    Captain Jigglypuff Leader of Jigglypuff Army

    There is one bird I’m not convinced went extinct. That is the Passenger pigeon. I don’t believe humans could kill every single member of a species that numbered in the billions in fifty years. I also believe that I actually have seen a couple of them running around. I think it’s one of those incidences where the majority of people believe something to be true and never notice the truth. I think genetically creating extinct species is okay depending on the animal. If it is something like a T.Rex then we shouldn’t bring it back but recreating something like the quagga shouldn’t do any harm.
  20. Chidzz

    Chidzz Well-Known Member

    The quagga went extinct due to overexploitation (excessive hunting) by humans. This would likely occur again once the species is resurrected, thus the effort would be wasted. This is the issue with humans thinking that they could manipulate species without considering the long term impacts it could have.

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