De-extinction is not just a plot point from Jurassic Park; it’s nearly a reality. There was a day when we spoke of extinct species in sad, hushed tones as lost to history, but that day may be no longer as scientists are coming close to bringing these species back to life. To date, these experiments have had short-lived success, but potentially there will be a time when we will see all sorts of ancient creatures again roaming the wild.
Ethically there are concerns that these creatures will be born without parents, meaning no one to show them how to be who they are. Some may be born into a world that has not preserved their habitat. And where does it end? What about ancient hominids? What if we have well-preserved genetic material from a Neanderthal? Should we bring him back?
Below are three recent stories on the progress scientists are making in resurrecting lost species from the dead. At least for me, these leave the imagination running wild with how it could change the world.
1) Stewart Brand’s TED Talk on De-Extinction
In his TED Talk (below), Stewart Brand talks about the current status of de-extinction, praises scientists who have had real success with some amazing (and somewhat crazy) solutions, and raises real questions about the problems a resurrected species might have waiting for it when it returns to earth.
2) How to Resurrect a Passenger Pigeon
National Geographic has a short video (below) on what it takes to resurrect a passenger pigeon. It goes along with their issue on de-extinction, which discusses the pros and cons. Are we playing God?
3) The Gastric Birthing Frog Reborn
NPR reports that “scientists at the University of New South Wales’ Lazarus Project announced they have reproduced the genome…of a gastric brooding frog.” According to the story, scientists implanted tissue in the egg of a “closely related species.” The embryos did not live long, but the scientists are confident that the hurdles to making the process successful are not impossible to overcome. Listen to the story below.