Re-Introducing Extinct Species, Cloning

Lots of talk around the genetics community as science is on the verge of being able to successfully clone extinct species through various techniques of DNA engineering. 

 

http://on.ted.com/DeExtinction

 

The 2 main debates are this.

 

Do we have an ethical obligation that if humanity has caused the extinction of an animal that now we have the technology to revive them, then shouldn't we?

 

The other being is what would the quality of life be of a cloned animal, the fact that an animal would come into existence in a world with no other of its kind to facilitate its maturation is an issue.

 

Re-introduction of animals into some systems appears to be having very positive effects, woves in Yellowstone has helped rehabitation, and bevers into england has assisted with the creation of flood plains that have helped agriculture.

 

Viability assesments are bing done about bringing back the Tasmanian Tiger very soon. More of a stretch is the Chinese and Russians are looking at trying to bring back a Woolly Mammoth.

 

 

What do you guys think?

 

Brave new world or playing God?

 

 

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I watched a TED talk about this. Guy was saying we can’t make dinosaurs from chickens but chickens are practically dinosaurs so let’s deform chickens until they resemble dinosaurs again.

It was easily the dumbest thing I’ve ever watched and I never watched another TED talk since.

Update: I just noticed you linked to a TED talk. If it’s the same one about the freaking chickens, don’t waste your time.

Some of TED is rubbish, but dont discount a lot of the vids for the sake of one crack-pot one. That talk I listed was mainly about the benefits of de-extinction of the carrier pigeon and or-ox, and extinct eco systems.

There's no harm in reviving a species and putting them in a zoo (or a tropical Island near Costa Rica).

 

I'm also in favour of returning them to the wild provided we are sure there will be an overall benefit to the ecosystem.

 

As for quality of life, that's why you start with a zoo program.

I was more talking about de-extinction of critical cornerstone species and using the same technology to reverse the near extinction of others. No Jurassic Park.

I know, so was I, but Jurassic Park comparisons are inevitable. A Dinosaur zoo would be the world's number 1 tourist attraction. 

 

Probably won't happen that way. Imagine if Melbourne Zoo had some Tassie Tigers though, you'd pay a premium for that. 

I'm all for it in the case of reintroducing species that became extinct as a result of humans, particularly if those species performed an important ecological role, e.g. the Thylacine as an apex predator.

 

Whether we really are all that close to making something like this work though, I'm not so sure. Effectively producing clones is one thing... producing the genetic diversity required for a viable population is another.

 

There is also the argument that the money and effort required to do this sort of work would be better spent on preventing further extinctions.

it would be fascinating.   does the revived specimen have in-built instincts ( ie- how to hunt etc).  is there evidence of genetic memory?

 

 

I'd say do it.  especially for something recent like the thylacine.

 

I imagine the early attempts will be flawed like Dolly the Sheep was.

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I'm all for it in the case of reintroducing species that became extinct as a result of humans, particularly if those species performed an important ecological role, e.g. the Thylacine as an apex predator.

 

Whether we really are all that close to making something like this work though, I'm not so sure. Effectively producing clones is one thing... producing the genetic diversity required for a viable population is another.

 

There is also the argument that the money and effort required to do this sort of work would be better spent on preventing further extinctions.

I'd argue that the ability to breed an animal from their genetic material would be a great tool for preventing further extinctions. Not a magic bullet by any means, but might allow some genetic diversity to be brought back into existing populations. 

 

it would be fascinating.   does the revived specimen have in-built instincts ( ie- how to hunt etc).  is there evidence of genetic memory?

 

 

I'd say do it.  especially for something recent like the thylacine.

 

I imagine the early attempts will be flawed like Dolly the Sheep was.

I wonder if the prey would have lost their game too in the absence of the predator. 

 

Was Dolly all that flawed?

 

Lived long enough to reproduce but died young of a common disease. 

What's the point ?

 

Humans would have caused most of the extinctions in one way or another, so what the ■■■■ does anyone think will happen now ?

That human nature will all of a sudden change to, oh we should look out for the wildlife instead of killing it's habitats.

it would be fascinating.   does the revived specimen have in-built instincts ( ie- how to hunt etc).  is there evidence of genetic memory?

 

 

I'd say do it.  especially for something recent like the thylacine.

 

I imagine the early attempts will be flawed like Dolly the Sheep was.

I wondered the exact same thing when I 1st read the topic.  What happens if they don't do what we think Thylacine's used to do & & we simply create a new pest?  What if they start wiping out all the devils, attack humans or simply become worthless flesh that doesn't know what it is or what it does? I'm not against the idea but can't imagine its all going to be as straight forward as the science fiction.  Like you say, facinating though. 

As luck would have it, I was actually very very peripherally involved in some of the thylacine cloning efforts a few years back.

 

Don't hold your breath on that count, is all I'm saying.  The number of specimens is so small and the quality is such (a bunch of young ones etc, which are the most intact specimens we have) were preserved in a preservation medium which destroys the usefulness of their DNA for anything resembling cloning efforts. 

 

I'd actually argue that if the (staggeringly enormous) technical hitches can be overcome, then there's certainly ecological room for some extinct creatures to be brought back, but ptobably not all.  The thylacine would be right up there, and would probably be great to have in tassie right now, as it'd keep the foxes and cats down a bit and would help take up some of the apex predator slack while the devils are struggling with the facial tumour disease. 

 

The passenger pigeon is an interesting one - in its day it was probably the most common air-breathing vertebrate in existence, with flocks of quite literally billions of a time being recorded, and as such it had a huge impact on its ecosystem.  People just used to stand under flocks, point shotguns vaguely upwards, and kill dozens at a time without aiming.  The catch is that these days we think that they relied heavily on sheer number as a survival trait, a bit like small schooling fish do today - once there was only a few million left their social structures (roosting, breeding, migration) broke down, their breeding slowed, and their numbers plummeted.  How do you generate a self-sustaining population from a single-digit population of very expensive and very genetically similar clones, in that light?  You'd end up with a couple of very sad cage birds, with no hope of survival in the wild.

 

Mammoths are a different kettle of fish - I reckon there's probably more chance of us successfully cloning a mammoth than most other extinct critters (assuming we find some good frozen ones in siberia before global warming thaws them all out and makes their dna useless...) but the ecological implications are far bigger.  Mammoths and elephants actually create their own ecosystems - they disrupt earth and knock down/uproot trees, and their crap is a really powerful fertilizer in often-marginal soil (read Tim Flannery's The Eternal Frontier for more info - regardless of what you think about his climate change work, the bloke is a brilliant paleontologist).  But at the moment, so many of the other critters that evolved to exploit the mammoth-provided ecosystem have gone too, all the sabertooths and the antelopes and the woolly rhinos and even down to the dung beetles and the microbes that populated the mammoths's gut cavity (mammals tend to inherit their mother's gut flora - in my work with roos, the orphans often have problems if treated with antibiotics when mum's not around, cos it kills their digestive microorganisms and they can't get help from mum, and we have to feed them crap from a healthy adult roo to get them going again).  I'm simply not sure how it would work.  Though if you got enough of them breeding it might help preserve the Siberian tiger for a little longer, providing it with another food source.  Then again, what you'd probably succeed in doing is to provide the poachers who are driving the tiger extinct with another lucrative target.  Sigh.  Humans, eh?

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As someone who is actually an ecologist, i'm very against de-extinction. It basically renders the conservation of species that are currently struggling pointless, because the lay person will just say 'Why bother try and protect Species A if we can just clone it and bring it back later.' De-extinction cheapens extinction and how serious a problem it actually is. Australia has the worst mammalian extinction rate of any country in the world over the past 200 years. 

 

However, concepts like rewilding and the reintroduction of existing species to previous ranges (i.e. Wolves in Yellowstone National Park) are, in my opinion, things that are going to be extremely important in the future. Losing top predators across the world (i.e. Sharks, wolves, dingos etc) leads to things like trophic cascades which are ultimately awful for the environment. For example, the extinction of Thylacines on the Aus mainland and the follow up of reduction in Dingo range has allowed foxes and feral cats to take hold and start tearing through our native mammal populations. In areas where dingos are present, foxes and cats are far less prevalent, allowing native species to continue to live quite well. 

 

So we definitely need to start talking about the reintroduction of species to their previous ranges, as it's a very very important aspect of maintaining overall function of an ecosystem. 

Can we do this?

Should we do this?

Do we clone 1? 2? …1000?

What happens then to genetic diversity?

Personally I would rather see that kind of money spent on programs that shore up what we have. I would be appalled to be part of the generation that let the Tasmanian Devil die out…this is looking more likely by the day.

Having said all of that…and taking into consideration the amount of alcohol consumed…

A dinosaur theme park would be incredible :wink:

im all for it on the grounds of eco systems and leaving the earth in better condition than when we arrived (lol, like thats ever gonna happen) but im against it cause it will just give humans a warm and fuzzy feeling that things can be brought back to life at the drop of a hat.

 

when i studied at Uni one thing that stuck with me was along the lines of 'the current rate of extinction of earths species is faster than that which wiped out the dinosaurs, we should feel blessed to be around during such a major event in the history of the world'. yeah they were being sarcastic, but this planet is farked with us as the top of the food chain.

Can we do this?
Should we do this?
Do we clone 1? 2? ......1000?
What happens then to genetic diversity?
Personally I would rather see that kind of money spent on programs that shore up what we have. I would be appalled to be part of the generation that let the Tasmanian Devil die out....this is looking more likely by the day.
Having said all of that....and taking into consideration the amount of alcohol consumed.....
A dinosaur theme park would be incredible ;-)

This. There's a number of programs looking at preserving Tassie Devils outside of the range of the cancer, one population already exists on Maria Island, however the major push is to get Devils recolonising the mainland (starting at Wilsons Prom). This isn't that big a step either because Devils likely existed on the mainland up until a couple of thousand years ago. Additionally, they'd fill the top predator niche left open by the reduction in range of the Dingo, as well as suppress fox and cat activity. 

 

I think something like that needs to happen, however there's two things holding it back - money and the government is too afraid to take more risks when it comes to conservation. The money issue can be solved potentially by redirecting the money from cloning stuff to conservation programs such as this. 

Is there that much government money in the cloning stuff as it is?  My impression was that it was mostly very small-scale, preliminary, and often funded by private interests who are in it hoping for the big pay-off when the first dodo or whatever waddles off the production line.

 

There's bugger-all govt money in ANY sort of conservation program at the moment (as I'm sure vooligan is all too aware).  It's not like there's rivers of gold flowing to cloning labs afaik...

How about cloning Hird?

How about cloning Hird?


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