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Is Extinction Only Temporary?

timothy posted more than 13 years ago | from the my-kids-will-be-my-clones dept.

Science 255

Logic Bomb writes: "A group of researchers at a privately-owned Massachusetts company are trying out an experiment that could help solve some of earth's problems with endangered species. An article from the Washington Post details their project to create a cloned Asian Guar using a good ol' American cow as a surrogate mother. The new guar, 'Noah,' is due to be born next month -- in other words, the project is a success. The company sees great possibilities for earth's wildlife, because as long as an appropriate surrogate mother can be found -- of the same or another species -- there is hope for any endangered animal. The next project is to bring a species of Spanish mountain goat back from extinction(!). Giant Pandas are on the schedule too."

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255 comments

what is the point??? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#722112)

i'm sorry, i'm all for protecting animals from accelerated extinction due to man's activities, but once those animals get to the brink of extinction, it kinda means that they really don't have much place on earth anymore. if you look at giant pandas, they really should be extinct with their poor reproduction rats. i say let them die.

Re:Hmm, seems sketchy to me (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 13 years ago | (#722115)

Posted by polar_bear:

Heh... Good point. I bet we only try to save cute and furry species. No one is going to try to save any extinct variety of mosquito or jellyfish.

Re:Is extinction temporary? Depends... (1)

embobo (1520) | more than 13 years ago | (#722116)

What is to say that is was meant to happen? I assume that by "X was meant to happen" you mean "X should happen." The sense of "should" used here is moral, e.g., you should be nice to your neigbors, not predictive in the present of incomplete knowledge e.g., when I drop a glass it should break.

Though there are reasons why any species went extinct the question of should they have gone extinct is open. It is up to a moral agents, such as humans, to reason about the goodness of a species becoming extinct.

Perhaps the extinct species would have produced an enzyme that would have lead to an AIDS vaccine. Perhaps the extinct species would have caused every species of bird in the world to become extinct.

There aren't many other species around with a moral faculty. We humans, as a consequence of possessing this faculty, have the obligation to fix things that we believe to be wrong. Being fallible, we may come to the incorrect conclusion of the best fix. That however, does not imply that we shouldn't try.

Re:While we're bringing back things from extinctio (1)

iabervon (1971) | more than 13 years ago | (#722117)

I've got the desktop (fvwm with xterms, mainly), the web site (slashdot lite, for example), a newsgroup or two (but they're clearly a secret), and the keyboard (veteran of a cream soda, which made the keys stick, because they were sticky).

Can't help you with the others...

ZOOS (1)

jjr (6873) | more than 13 years ago | (#722123)

If this become a common thing I could see zoos for previously exitinct speices. I could see this as a big money. Come and see the only living Wolly Mammoth!! In the right right hands this can be a good tool but I do not think mankind will use this technology for the right reason.

Not so easy to find a surrogate mother. (1)

Richard Mills (17522) | more than 13 years ago | (#722128)

Just want to point out that this isn't a panacea that will solve all of the endangered species problems. It seems that some people are way too overly optimistic about finding appropriate surrogate mothers. This is very difficult, even when you have a surrogate mother of the same species. In fact, this is the major obstacle in most attempts to clone vertebrates. We have gotten to the point that cloning embryos has become quite easy, but getting a mother to carry them to term can be extremely difficult. For instance, ask anyone who has tried to clone pigs. Embryonic development will not proceed normally unless at least 4 embryos are implanted in the uterus--and getting four embryos within the same time span so that they can be implanted at the same time is NOT EASY. Now imagine trying this feat with a mother that is not even the same species. Your chances just aren't that good for many species.

Note also that this is not the first time that a surrogate mother of a different species from the child has been used successfully. In November of 1999 an ordinary housecat gave birth to an African wildcat.

Re:While we're bringing back things from extinctio (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 13 years ago | (#722130)

> New Star Trek series that don't suck.

Sounds like you saw the first episode of Andromeda this weekend.

--

Similar Story a while ago... (1)

befan (22261) | more than 13 years ago | (#722131)

There was story which was very similar
Tiger Cloning [slashdot.org].The funny thing about
that tiger(it is *not* a feline, it was more
a dog) is that it was already extinct. OW, the
mechanims are very similar.

syam.
Slashdot.org: we recycle, do you ?

Re:What about genetic diversity? (1)

msaavedra (29918) | more than 13 years ago | (#722134)

I don't think anything like this is feasible, for the simple reason that a healthy species *needs* genetic variation to survive. Imagine the inbreeding problems when an entire population is basically copies from one or a few individuals!
The issues you raised are pretty accurate, though there may be ways of getting around the problems. First of all, due to the founder effect [usm.edu], the gene pool of the newly resurrected species is unlikely to be identical to the original species. However, if they can find and clone enough different samples, they might be able to approximate it pretty well. This is similar to the way pollsters don't question every person in the country about the presidential election, but can still get fairly accurate results with a carefully chosen representative sample. How many different genetic samples would be necessary for this, I have no idea.

The second problem they would have to deal with is genetic drift, where even a population of several thousand can randomly lose genetic diversity. This is less of a problem than it appears, because even if the population loses a few genes, they can always clone some more animals that actually have them.

As far as inbreeding, the problems here usually arise from homozygosity of deleterious recessive genes. They could potentially lower the likelyhood of this being a problem by eliminating the deleterious recessives in the lab (probably much harder than it sounds). Beyond that, deleterious recessives tend to gradually fade away in populations where inbreeding is common, because they are far more likely to cause problems in a such a population, and thus have a much higher selection pressure going against them. For instance, in many human societies where marrying one's first cousin is common, deleterious recessives are much less common than in Western cultures, where marrying even second cousins is taboo.

Hmmm... I'm starting to ramble, so I'll end here by saying that resurrecting a species, given the right conditions is certainly possible, but it would be a mammoth undertaking (pun intended [slashdot.org]) far beyond something like merely cloning a sheep.


---------------------------
"The people. Could you patent the sun?"

Re:Artificial babies won't act natural (1)

victim (30647) | more than 13 years ago | (#722135)

I sincerly hope that if we bring back a Dodo it grabs a blunt object and starts beating humans. It is their turn after all.

Three words: 3M spray adhesive (1)

victim (30647) | more than 13 years ago | (#722136)

A couple cans of 3M spray adhesive an insulation blow-in truck ought to take care of that.

Re:playing god? (1)

Fixer (35500) | more than 13 years ago | (#722140)

This just screams of going beyond conservation or preserving endangered animals. I am a bit leery of cloning in the first place, but the thought of using it to bring back extinct species is over the top. If these scientists are that concerned with preserving endangered animals, they should be working at the root of the problem. If the species is being threatened by the actions of us humans, then they should be working towards changing the destructive behaviors that are causing their extinction.
Do you think we know why certain species go extinct and others don't? Certainly, habitat destruction is one cause. But it isn't the only one. So bringing back such a species will give us insights into the why's and how's.

Now, you say that they should be working to change the destructive behaviors that caused the extinction in the first place. Well, we can't do that unless we can study a living member of said extinct species. Oh, wait. You ment alter HUMAN behavior. Ahhh, I get it now. You think that some scientist is able to accurately judge "good" and "bad" behavior.

Lets see how many holes I can shoot in that fallacy. First, there is no way to assign objective standards of behavior that are appropriate to everyone. What is murder in America is self-defense in another country. Same issue with just about every other 'behavior' you might name. Oh, you want to go 'deeper' than that? Perhaps you want to change the basic human spirit that produced technological civilization in the first place? We didn't get here peacefully, and it's doubtful that will change anytime soon (nor, do I think, should it).

We are each responsible for our own actions, and also have the right to do what we think is best for ourselves and our loved ones. That may not sit well with some folks. Tough.

Re:Those poor animals (1)

Fixer (35500) | more than 13 years ago | (#722141)

"Those poor creatures"

Uh. Meals, and little competition for survival. Mates provided. Controlled enviroment. You know, it sounds awfully like... Civilization! Well, except for the mates part.

What's so wrong about being dead? Okay, that doesn't deserve a rational response, but I'll give you one anyway: We don't know what's after death. Individually, we may think we know, or believe, but there is no real proof of any sort. So the question is this: No matter what you think happens after death, are you willing to bet it's better than life? I'm not. And, I personally think that life is a great thing, and so I believe it should be preserved, always. Our current technology doesn't allow that, but it will someday.

Do I want to live forever? Hell yes. Do I think that life itself is an instrinsically good thing? Yes. And so if someone, who feels as I do, has the resources to bring back a species, what's wrong with doing so? It has fuck-all to do with guilt.

Re:Hmm, seems sketchy to me (1)

Fixer (35500) | more than 13 years ago | (#722142)

Here's a funky thought: They went extinct, and now we want to bring them back. That's one HELL of a survival mechanism, isn't? To develop some innate property that makes us want to save them. Man, and I thought humans were devious.

The Freakshow of Caged Wildlife (1)

Peter H.S. (38077) | more than 13 years ago | (#722144)

Most animals becomes instinct, because the enviroment they live in, is destroyed by man.
The great Panda is already instinct; sure a dwindling wild population still exist, but for all purposes, it is instinct, and I have a hard time imagining that there ever will be a sustainable population in the wild again. The Tiger and Chimpanzee too; chances are, that You will survive them.

Sure, such extinct animals will be displayed on "freak shows" like Zoo's and tv-programmes. And people will therefore continue live in the illusion, that these animals aren't instinct. But I say they are; those sad survivers are staged props.

I really dislike such projects, like this "gaur" cloning;
They don't address or change the real issue.
It is most likely just a commercial cloning-camp for the mighty freakshow.
Such project never seem to target non-cute animals, like slimy frogs, who, from a biological viewpoint, are just as interesting.
In short, I think such projects are waste of money and energy. The financial resources for preserving already existing wildlife, are scarse enough. And often it doesn't take much money to make a huge difference; just stopping draining every little muddy waterhole, stopping unnecessary pesticide spraying and cutting of plants at the roadsides etc, will give some wildlife, a sporting chance to survive on their own.

Re:Breadth of Gene Pool (1)

ssorc (48632) | more than 13 years ago | (#722145)

Actually not all animals suffer from inbreeding the way humans do. Dogs and cats for instance are largely immune to the effects of inbreeding as far as I know.

Many mammals can tolerate incredibly small gene pools.

I think the higher apes are just genetically too fucked up to handle it. :)

Not a success yet (1)

Andy Smith (55346) | more than 13 years ago | (#722147)

From the intro:
The new guar, 'Noah,' is due to be born next month -- in other words, the project is a success.
I don't think people should be so quick to say the project has been a success. The animal isn't even born yet. When it has been born, shown to be a perfect clone, lived a normal life and died, the project will have been a success. Not before.

The aim of the project is to create a perfect reproduction, not just a creature similar to one that lived before.

People still talk about Dolly as being a successful cloning, even with the ageing abnormalities. How can a true clone be different in such a major way?

Re:Learning? (1)

Old Wolf (56093) | more than 13 years ago | (#722148)

As the article mentiones, a bongo was born to a surrogate eland. The eland raised the bongo as it would an eland, and the bongo grew up and then mated in bongo fashion with real bongoes and had a normal bongo family.

An interesting novel [strangerin...geland.net] was once written about a man whose mother died on an exploratory mission to Mars, and the child was raised, from before birth, by Martians, and returned to Earth about 20 years later. This brought a lot of benefit to the individual, the Earthlings, and the Martians. So I don't think that undue pessimism is due.

Those poor animals (1)

ikekrull (59661) | more than 13 years ago | (#722152)

Jesus, instead of actually doing something to modify our own behaviour to avoid killing these species, now everythings ok because we can breed them on demand, regardless of how long they've been dead. Its basically a pretty sick thing to do to the poor creatures. Whats so terribly wrong about being dead?? We wiped them out, and now seek to assuage our guilt by 'resurrecting' them They have no home to go back to, and are born into a prison where they'll live out the rest of their miserable lives. I can't imagine a worse life for an animal than to be born and die in captivity, and i'll never visit another zoo after seeing, as a young child, those poor cats (leopards, lions) in tiny cages. Why not clone, breed and reintroduce those native american indians that got slaughtered wholesale? Clone a few herds of buffalo, and set em up on the plains so they can build their wigwams and make the good ol' whitebread US feel less guilty about things.

One small step... (1)

jidar (83795) | more than 13 years ago | (#722159)

This is an interesting thing, although I can't say I'm surprised about it as it seems almost mundane for these types of things to happen nowadays.

I wonder how much of an effect this could really have though? Isn't this just attacking the symptom of the problem instead of the problem itself? Not that this is a bad thing, but it is probably the smallest and easiest step towards brining back an endangered or extinct species. The real challenge is fixing the problems that caused the extinction.

Give me squid or give me death! (1)

jazzman45 (86593) | more than 13 years ago | (#722160)

As i've seen on discovery channel, giant squids exist...but they've only been caught in fishing nets in a deceased state. If only there could be a surrogate for such a beast....

bye,
-jimbo

Re:While we're bringing back things from extinctio (1)

Trepalium (109107) | more than 13 years ago | (#722177)

Techies at computer stores that actually know anything.

Competent and friendly technical support lines.

Those things aren't extinct -- they never existed in the first place.

Re: Jurassic Park (1)

whatnotever (116284) | more than 13 years ago | (#722186)

Y'know, if something like Jurassic Park happened, it wouldn't be so bad. I mean, honestly, it was only bad because we were looking at it from the POV of the very *few* people on the island. In Real Life, that would just be a minor setback. Who really cares that a few people died? People die all the time...

Just go back to the island on a day when the weather's a little nicer and it wouldn't be too hard to bring things back to order.

Oh, and if they don't have scary music playing, it wouldn't be *nearly* as bad!

Hmm, seems sketchy to me (1)

AssFace (118098) | more than 13 years ago | (#722187)

I'm certianly not against science, but what about survival of the fittest? They went extinct for a reason, so if we bring them back, what happens?
It reminds me too much of when we step in and do something and then fuck up things far worse - like bringing in animals into an ecosystem to resolve one problem, but then create another - kudzu in the south, frogs in Australia, killer bees on the texas border... the gypsy moth - was that one?
oh well, one more thing to laugh at if it goes wrong.
------------------------------------------ --------

Re:But what's the point? (1)

AndrewTaylor (126476) | more than 13 years ago | (#722194)

Hunting has been a more important factor than habitat destruction in extinction of larger terrestial vertebrates in recent centuries

This might extend back to the Pleistocene, its controversial but some also believe overhunting caused many large vertebrate extinctions in the Pleistocene.

Suitable habitat still exists many of these extinct species - e.g. Thylacine, Toolache Wallaby, Blue Buck, Steller's Sea Cow, Caribbean Monk Seal, Great Auk, Labrador Duck.

Andrew Taylor

Extinct *Is* Forever (1)

ekmo (128842) | more than 13 years ago | (#722197)

I hope this does not give all of you GwG [tuxedo.org] folks the wrong impression. The environment is beautiful. We should strive to protect it. Do not go shooting down bald eagles because you think they can be grown back by science. Giving a scientist employment is not a rational justification for taking life.

to learn, someone must teach (1)

w.o.p.r. (130565) | more than 13 years ago | (#722200)


even if a baby is born, a small population were to be re-established and the problem of inbreeding were to be circumvented (i mean, if you believe in the story of adam and eve, then that's about the most massive form of inbreeding i can think of) who would teach the once extinct creature how to live? all of the knowledge, experiance, culture, habits and what-not died when the last of the species died. without this, the population could never truly be re-established, as the habitat it once lived in, now has moved on w/out it, and this creature no longer knows how to fill it's particular "niche".

Re-evolution (1)

CyanideHD (132907) | more than 13 years ago | (#722203)

Has any have thought of re-evolution? If you take a relative species into the extinct animal's habitat, would it evolve into the extinct animal?

Re:But what's the point? (1)

netstorm2000 (144611) | more than 13 years ago | (#722208)

Completely artificial- they would be serving the purpose for which they evolved, so why bother?

Of course its completely artificial. We are doing to it to correct (at least TRY to) a past error. Patches are never perfect. But by what you said you very basically miss a point. There is NO PURPOSE in evolving...that anthropomorphizes the issue. OUR purpose in doing this is to at elast TRY to preserve soemething of the past for our children, so that hopefully they will see that not only did we make a mistake, but that were were compassionate in adbanced enough to attempt to rectify it with what was available to use at the time.

Yes! Save the woolly mammoth! Re:c'mon.... (1)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 13 years ago | (#722213)

I mean there's nothing more endangered than the woolly mammoth is there?

Incidentally I assume you know that there is a scientist somewhere or other who is trying to do just that. Occasionally in the old USSR they found frozen woolly mammoths. Obviously the sperm and eggs are dead. But the DNA should still be largely intact...

They had a plan to take woolly mammoth 'dead' sperm implant it into elephant egg and then implant into an elephant. Turns out that usually works with dead sperm. After several generations the elemammoth should become more and more mammoth.

This was the plan before cloning was developed. They're probably hoping to do something fancier now... All they need is that mammoth popsicle. I mean there's never one around when you need one is there...

Only good for mammals? (1)

child_of_mercy (168861) | more than 13 years ago | (#722218)

Would this only work for mammals?

Or is there a trick you could pull for egg-layers?

There also seems to be a lot of debate as to whether viable DNA can be retreived from all the pickled specimens in all the museums in the world.

Whats the deal there?

Uhm... (1)

John Betonschaar (178617) | more than 13 years ago | (#722222)

I thought you needed at least some cell material to clone animals? Besides, I hardly believe it's healthy to clone a whole population out of one DNA sample.

Re:Habitat Timesharing (1)

eudas (192703) | more than 13 years ago | (#722227)

the big game hunters would love that...
they'd pay big bucks to be able to go around for weeks/months at a time, just blasting everything in sight.

eudas

Re:Extinct *Is* Forever (1)

eudas (192703) | more than 13 years ago | (#722228)

not to mention that a copy of a bald eagle is probably not as good as the original one.

i'm not sure if that comment is funny or not.

eudas

Hello, Goodbye (1)

mickwd (196449) | more than 13 years ago | (#722232)

Great, now we can bump off animals to our hearts content, and recreate them when we forget what they looked like.

Seriously, though, great work by the scientists involved. But I just hope it doesn't make people think we can screw around with the environment, and everything in it, even more than we do now.

Artificial babies won't act natural (1)

Cerlyn (202990) | more than 13 years ago | (#722234)

This will be like animals born in a zoo; while they are really the species that you see, they will not behave like they would in the wild. They will behave artificially in an artificial environment. While it might be possible to fake being a real mother to a few species (such as some types of birds), all we are likely creating are animals for zoos that wouldn't know how to find food, water, etc. if they had to. If we raised a Dodo, it wouldn't act like one would have tens of thousands of years ago.

playing god? (1)

bigdweeb (204273) | more than 13 years ago | (#722236)

This just screams of going beyond conservation or preserving endangered animals. I am a bit leery of cloning in the first place, but the thought of using it to bring back extinct species is over the top. If these scientists are that concerned with preserving endangered animals, they should be working at the root of the problem. If the species is being threatened by the actions of us humans, then they should be working towards changing the destructive behaviors that are causing their extinction.

I am just concerned that this research might not be 100% for the animals they are trying to help. I fear that some of the drive behind this might just to be the first team to succeed in bringing back a species... and the "celebrity" accociated with it. And also let's not forget Darwin in all this. Species do just cease to exist for evolutionary reasons. After all, that's how we got here!

Re:c'mon.... (1)

tq_at_sju (218880) | more than 13 years ago | (#722246)

ME TOO, SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO WOOLY those things kicked so much butt, that and the sabre tooth tiger, and the dodo bird. How good is the name dodo, come on

the waiting game (1)

surfacearea (219926) | more than 13 years ago | (#722247)

... currently awaiting emerson willowick's [slashdot.org] (i.e. King of Religiously-themed, Racially Bigoted and Unbelievably Closed Minded Self Righteous Troll/Flamebait Comments) response. here is a preview for all interested. why? because i am bored. duh. obviously
"whinewhinewhine... do not play god, or thou shalt go to the monotheistically self-contradictory and utterly principally defeated christian hell thou deservest! et cetera et cetera et cetera"

Unfortuantely...an explanation on "egg" layers (1)

xonix7 (227592) | more than 13 years ago | (#722252)

No...Egg layers are on a different layer of the OSI model and therefore cannot communicate their encapsulated frames directly. Therefore, only mammals will benefit.

By itself this is useless... (1)

itsbruce (229840) | more than 13 years ago | (#722253)

What's the point of bringing these animals back if the reasons for their extinction still exist? If their environments are vanishing (smaller now than they were when they went), if the threat of poaching is still there (they'll be even more valuable than before) then there's not much point trying to reintroduce them to their old habitats and putting them into zoos isn't much use. Better to hold onto the genetic material until there's a decent opportunity.

Beyond that, there would be problems with higher mammals - there's a certain amount of learned behaviour, passed on by parents to children, which is necessary to survival. That disappeared with the species concerned.

Re:But what's the point? (1)

grovertime (237798) | more than 13 years ago | (#722262)

i'm not sure who modded this as insightful, but it is actually shortsighted. on one hand there is the human comparison where we should say to let the old and infirmed die when they are "supposed to" on the basis of your reasoning. in keeping with the human leaning, i would be interested to see if this viewpoint be be reflected if you could clone a human, long dead, that could allow us some insight into our current selves.

sticking to similar circumstances, there are the matters of understanding our environment, potentially curing our ailments (many human innovations in disease-fighting have come from our study of animals), and of course, pretty, pretty animals in our zoos.


  1. The Meaning of Life [mikegallay.com]

Re:Uhm... (1)

Beowulf_Boy (239340) | more than 13 years ago | (#722265)

I wonder if it would be be better if they put the DNA in the microwave for a while, that would give them plenty of variations, wouldn't it?

Do we really want to bring them back? (1)

Natalie's Hot Grits (241348) | more than 13 years ago | (#722267)

2 words... Jurrasic Park.

Serriously though, Why would you brint them back? I'm not all against the 'playing god' thing, but there are really some concerns here. Why would you want to bring back an extinct species? Maybe it was extinct because nature said so?

The only thing this is usefull for is to make money. Clone extinct things, peopel pay money to see it. People pay money to fund you. People pay money and think they are doing good. In reality, this cloning is just hurting life's process. The stronger species survives.

Do you really think the Asian Guar is going to give US a second chance when we are extinct? I serriously doubt they are gonna go out of their way to bring us back from the dead. Afterall, we are the ones who are destroying this planet in the first place...

This reminds me, wouldn't it be easier to just clone those whales Capt. Kirk needed rather than fly around the sun a million times fast and go back in time? Makes one think....

Re:Is extinction temporary? Depends... (1)

Omerna (241397) | more than 13 years ago | (#722269)

They're also only bringing back one animal at a time. The time (as well as surrogate mothers) required to "bring back a species" would be extraordinary.. Sounds interesting though, the time/ money invested would be recouped by the public wanting to see the only animal of it's kind existing in the world.

Bad idea; the earth doesn't need our help, WE do (1)

dreness (241408) | more than 13 years ago | (#722270)

This seems like a bad idea to me. Now, I'm no biologist, but the simple fact is that extinction happens for a reason. People are quick to point out that there are many species that have been threatened due to humans - destruction of habitats and whatnot. This strikes some people as unnatural; as if the effect of humankind on our planet somehow is outside the realm of what is "supposed" to happen. Since when have humans not been part of the natural order? We are all creatures of this earth, and we affect it differently; but it is one giant self-balancing system. It may not appear this way from our perspective, what with our puny little lifespans and all, but it is. The idea that it is our responsibility to "save" some species or "save" the environment for the good of the planet just seems a bit silly to me. George Carlin does a great bit on this whole issue... it's rather pompous of us, don't you think? The Earth is probably going to be around a lot longer than we are, and even if humans manage to wipe out scads of species of various organisms and irrecoverably ravage our environment, it will be the end of us, not the planet. We should work on cleaning up our environment and protecting other forms of life in order to save *ourselves* - to help maintain some semblance of quality of life for us - not for some conceited notion of saving the planet. Personally, I think it's time to make some room. Next up, the cockroaches ;-)

Re:human surrogates (1)

spec8472 (241410) | more than 13 years ago | (#722271)

Heheh, couldnt resist...

dont they already exist in some parts of America? ;)



Spec8472
Yeah? so what do you care?

Re:What about genetic diversity? (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#722275)

There is also the question of whether the ecosystems have adapted to being without the extinct species for so long, that reintroducing that species will have the the same potential for messing up the ecosystem as introducing an alien species.

Why don't Sci-Fi movies ever cover this? If you went back in time 75,000,000 years to see dinosaurs, you'd probably die within a day from some long extinct bacteria or virus you're totally vilnerable. What's more, you presence would likely spread a wave of death over the entire eco system from bacteria and viruses you brought from the future.

Re:But what's the point? (2)

Luis Casillas (276) | more than 13 years ago | (#722282)

I refuse to believe that in the few thousand years since humans started being "civilized" that we have caused more animal species to become extinct than in the few million years before that.

Whatever the answer is here, the fact remains that we are now conscious participants in environmental change, which brings along ethical considerations that weren't in the picture ever before.

To counter your point, I think one can evidence that "modern" "civilization" *is* threatening to make far more species extinct than anything ever before, if it hasn't already. My examples have mostly to do with agriculture, e.g. the push to use a few varieties of high-yield cash crops attacks, to the detriment of local varieties, threatens local crops.

Essentially, our species consciously understands and manipulates the environment in ways that go very far beyond any other species ever has. At least this point is undeniable and decisive here.

I do have moderator points today, but I couldn't find an appropriate way to moderate your inflammatory, shortsighted post. Any negative way I moderated it would not explain the reasons that I have for believing your post should be moderated down.

You show yourself to be a bad moderator . What was "inflammatory" from that post, apart from the fact that the you disagree with it?

People like you, with your "troll == disagrees with me" attitude is why this place has gone to hell.

I can't believe the responses you've gotten. (2)

Luis Casillas (276) | more than 13 years ago | (#722283)

Elsewhere in this thread, konstant replies: "Haven't you ever wanted a second chance after you made an idiotic mistake? This is one way of mankind making good on incredible errors after the fact." netstorm2000 says: "We are doing to it to correct (at least TRY to) a past error."

Can't they get it? When a species is extinct, it is GONE. Period. The species itself was an essential part of the environment ito which it was adapted. Period. You can't bring that back at all.

Kudos to you and Black Parrot who get it. This is just a further example of the arrogance of non-sustainable "modern" "civilization" and its "we are the masters of nature" attitude.

Scary Stuff (2)

gavinhall (33) | more than 13 years ago | (#722286)

Posted by polar_bear:

This is great, we'll find a way to bring back animals from extinction...after they've been killed off because we keep expanding to fill all the available habitats on Earth and ruin their ecosystem and...so - what happens when we bring them back? Keep a few choice samples in zoos and preserves so we can pretend that we've done something wonderful by recreating a species just for our own amusement?

Fact is, if we don't get our stuff together, the numbers of animals going extinct is going to rapidly increase until we end up being the one going extinct - and no other species of animal would be willing to bring us back, even if they could. (Except maybe dogs, we've been pretty nice to them overall and they're generally forgiving. But they just don't have the technology, so forget it...)

In any other species, when the population overruns the food supply then some of the population dies off and the cycle continues - generally the species reaches homeostasis. They become part of their environment, and too many or too few create an imbalance. Predators or lack of food (or both) work to make sure that overpopulation doesn't last long. Similarly, if an animal is being preyed on too much, eventually some of the predators die off and then they can repopulate. Before humans start coming on to the scene, extinction is rare. Not unheard of, but rare.

However, we've been breaking the laws of nature by producing more and more food and more and more people. It is a cycle that cannot last - we are not above nature just because we are "smarter" than other animals. Yes, I said "other" animals because we are, like it or not, part of the animal kingdom. We're not exempt just because we have tools and written language and bank accounts and other things...we're still animals. And, if we don't change our ways and learn to become part of nature again, we'll be an extinct animal.

To quote George Carlin "Save the planet? How arrogant! The planet doesn't need saving. The planet is fine. The people are f@#$ed, but the planet is fine. It'll be here long after we're gone."

Want a different perspective? Check out http://www.ishmael.org/ and get hold of Daniel Quinn's "Ishmael" or "Story of B" or "My Ishmael" - they should be required reading in second grade.

Re:Is extinction temporary? Depends... (2)

gavinhall (33) | more than 13 years ago | (#722288)

Posted by polar_bear:

Oh, please, save us from precautionary thinking!

Granted, you're right - "you cannot conclusively prove that any new thing will do no harm" and often you can't prove that it will, either.

However, our technology has so far outstripped our culture that it's not funny. We're still arguing about whether or not it's okay to have abortion (and some about birth control) while we're freezing embryos and working on same-sex parenting and genetic manipulation and cloning and...well, quite a few technologies that we've barely paused to examine the ethical and practical complications of. Frankly, we haven't even dealt with the invention of the car from a cultural perspective. Think about it - how fragile the nuclear family is now that you can be in another state by nightfall and across the country in a day or two.

We have an insanely bad habit of doing something just because we can. Is it great that we can clone sheep? Yeah, it's really cool. Is it something we should be practicing...um, I dunno. I really don't, and I doubt that anyone else really does either. But we are. Should we be cloning extinct animals. Maybe. Should we be worrying about why they're extinct in the first place? I'd say so. I bet it has a lot to do with the fact that we didn't stop to think of the consequences of our actions.

It's imperitive that when we as humans invent a new technology that someone ask the question "is this going to help or hurt us? or both?" This should happen before the technology has been spread all over the world and then someone notices - "oh, look, all those exhaust fumes doing massive damage to the ecosystem" "oh, bother, all the lead in discarded computer monitors is polluting the water table." "Hmmm...that's funny, all those women who took thalidomide (sp?) for morning sickness are having babies with birth defects..." Get the picture?

Would it be that terrible if we invented something, and then said "yup, it's neat, but we're not quite ready for it yet. Let's shelve it and come back in five years." By all means, we should do research, but you have to consider the consequences of inventions as well as chugging along and spewing out new technologies.

Who will save the Passenger Pigeons? (2)

Archeopteryx (4648) | more than 13 years ago | (#722290)

I wonder if there is any frozen passenger pigeon DNA around? I somehow doubt it. They were extinct in the 1930s, long before the prospect of making new life out of genes was considered.

There are a lot of contemporary "passenger pigeons"... Species which become extinct before we have ever been aware of their existence, for example.

So, Beware The Techno-fix!!! Nothing whatsoever will replace pollution reduction, habitat preservation, and hunting controls, though some will try to say that this innovation renders such commonsense conservation efforts redundant. Do not believe them. (The movie "Silent Running" shows the logical endpoint of such thinking.)

Re:Is extinction temporary? Depends... (2)

Jonathan (5011) | more than 13 years ago | (#722291)

A species goes extinct, whether it's as a result of our encroaching on nature, or simply natural selection, what is to say that it wasn't meant to happen?

Nothing whatsoever is "meant to happen", at least from a scientific perspective. Natural selection, like gravity, describes what happens not what ought to happen. If people decide that saving species X from extinction is worth it to them, then that's just fine.

Re:Is extinction temporary? Depends... (2)

grahams (5366) | more than 13 years ago | (#722293)

I'm sorry, I thought that species went extinct for a reason...

This is a prime example of humans assuming that they can 'fix' everything. A species goes extinct, whether it's as a result of our encroaching on nature, or simply natural selection, what is to say that it wasn't meant to happen?

Sigh....

Re:While we're bringing back things from extinctio (2)

FallLine (12211) | more than 13 years ago | (#722295)

hehe well that is debatable. But the quality in both has fallen substantially. Granted, you never had the best and the brightest at such outfits, but there used to be a time when they could do more than read the labels off the products they sell. My theory is that the demand for technies has outstripped the supply for even the most marginally skilled ones. Each skill level has essentially been pushed up a notch or two, leaving only the equivelent of McDonalds employees to work such jobs (at least in most major cities). Kids with just a little bit of programming experience, can and do land real jobs programming. Whereas many of them would have started out working at radio shack, or something to that effect.

Re:But what's the point? (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 13 years ago | (#722297)

> With no habitat to go back to, to repopulate, what's the point of bringing them back? Just to say we can do it?

You're right, and it really surprises me to see posters disagreeing with you.

I rather suspect that "the point is" that this can be brought up in lots of cases where the ecological impact study for a project returns an unfavorable result. "No problem, we'll just revivify the species later if anyone decides they want it."

I'm interested in the science involved, and I would like to see lots of species brought back. But face it - they'll have fewer places to live in 10 years than they do now.

--

Re:Is extinction temporary? Depends... (2)

ChadN (21033) | more than 13 years ago | (#722298)

...what is to say that it wasn't meant to happen?

We are! If we are able to change our habits, protect habitats through political influence, or take active measures to protect a species, who is to say that THAT wasn't meant to happen? The whole point of conservation, and wildlife preservation, is that there is a measureable value to it, and the laissez-faire attitude damages our own interests in the long run.

Now granted, I don't think bringing back species through DNA storage or surrogacy is anywhere near a good solution, but there are good reasons for trying.

I was at the San Diego Wildlife Animal Park [sandiegozoo.org] about a month ago (a large open space zoo and preserve), and it was mentioned that one of the species of asian animals exhibited there (a Chinese deer of some sort, I believe), has existed solely in captivity for over 700 years! I found that amazing.

Survival of the fittest, et. al... (2)

IsleOfView (23825) | more than 13 years ago | (#722300)

I'd be interested to see what people have to think about how this relates to the 'survival of the fittest' views on species evolution and extinction. I personally don't believe in evolution (another discussion entirely), but if you hold to that belief, as it seems many or most scientists do, wouldn't it make sense that these extinct species weren't cut out to make it at a certain point in time? (whether it's the fault of man or not)

What do you think? Are these species being brought back to be put on display only, or are we planning on releasing them back into the wild? If we do release them, aren't they destined for the same extinction as before?

Micro$oft(R) Windoze NT(TM)
(C) Copyright 1985-1996 Micro$oft Corp.
C:\>uptime

Re:Is extinction temporary? Depends... (2)

Fixer (35500) | more than 13 years ago | (#722306)

This is a prime example of humans assuming that they can 'fix' everything. A species goes extinct, whether it's as a result of our encroaching on nature, or simply natural selection, what is to say that it wasn't meant to happen?
And what is to say it was? It's this sort of precautionary thinking that, if followed rigourously, would stifle all technological and scientific innovation.

The simple fact is that we don't yet have the ability to accurately predict the future, and so we have to make our best guesses in any situation. If those who have the resources want to bring back an extinct species, fine. But it's also their responsibility if anything goes wrong. Plus, in this situation, we also get to learn much more about said species than if we hadn't done anything at all.

Now, one could claim that bringing back an extinct species could endanger us all. I mean, look at what happened with non-native transplants, like Kudzu. Then again, Kudzu didn't result in the end of all life, either.

But, however any action turns out, there is this fact: You cannot conclusively prove that any new thing will do no harm, to anyone, ever.

Re:What about genetic diversity? (2)

kaphka (50736) | more than 13 years ago | (#722309)

I don't think anything like this is feasible, for the simple reason that a healthy species *needs* genetic variation to survive.
IANAPG, but it's my understanding that the issues with genetic diversity have been greatly exaggerated. Sure, a human with one set of grandparents is probably going to be pretty screwed up... but "birth defects" in humans are probably much more noticeable than birth defects in animals. Who knows how many fingers a Dodo bird is supposed to have, anyway? If it is able to reproduce, it's probably good enough for our purposes.

Which brings me to the second point... the problems caused by inbreeding tend to breed themselves out after a few generations. The first run of clones from an endangered species might have a very high rate of fatality, but that just accelerates natural selection, so later generations will be much more robust. Eventually mutations would restore normal genetic diversity.

Then again, you could always spike it with frog DNA.

Re:But what's the point? (2)

konstant (63560) | more than 13 years ago | (#722316)

So, what am I trying to say? With no habitat to go back to, to repopulate, what's the point of bringing them back?

Haven't you ever wanted a second chance after you made an idiotic mistake? This is one way of mankind making good on incredible errors after the fact.

True, mountain gorilla may be on its way out now, but that doesn't mean we won't have a collective change of heart 50 years after they're all gone.


-konstant
Yes! We are all individuals! I'm not!

Re:Re-evolution (2)

PurpleBob (63566) | more than 13 years ago | (#722317)

If that worked, what would be the point? If it became just like the extinct animal it'd end up going extinct again.
--
No more e-mail address game - see my user info. Time for revenge.

Re:But what's the point? (2)

po_boy (69692) | more than 13 years ago | (#722320)

The reason (most) of these species are extinct is a loss of habitat caused by "civilization" moving in and changing it, whether to take resources or to build houses or businesses.

I refuse to believe that in the few thousand years since humans started being "civilized" that we have caused more animal species to become extinct than in the few million years before that. Unless species are becoming extinct at several thousand times the previous rates of extinctions, this is pretty much impossible. Are you trying to say that we are in the middle of a period of mass extinction that even dwarfs the period in which the dinosaurs were wiped out?

I do have moderator points today, but I couldn't find an appropriate way to moderate your inflammatory, shortsighted post. Any negative way I moderated it would not explain the reasons that I have for believing your post should be moderated down. It's not really flame bait because you take such a (currently) politically correct tone. It's not really offtopic; quite the contrary. I guess there's always the possibiliy that I have just been trolled. But to me, this post doesn't sound like a post intentionally crafted to troll, it sounds more like you're just confused.

None of my post here should be construed to represent any opinion I have on the cloning of extinct animals, or on the morality or ethics of environmental damage caused by humans. I'll save those for a more appropriate thread.

Oh my gosh! They're bringing back GWAR?! (2)

Speare (84249) | more than 13 years ago | (#722323)

I can't believe they'd bring back GWAR [204.249.244.10]!

Heck, can you imagine delivering those spiny outfits the band members wore? Can you say cesaerian section?

Okay, slow day. So sue me. :)

Why should anything be permanent? (2)

knife_in_winter (85888) | more than 13 years ago | (#722324)

I say that once a species is extinct, we should leave it that way, as a reminder of our own mortality.

I am a firm believer that there are some things you just don't fsck with. This is one of them. This is just another example of humans playing god and asking all the wrong questions.

Sure we *can* do this, but *should* we?

I mean, I think that the real issue here is not that we are being responsibile and altruistic by restoring an extinct species. I think the real issue is that restoring an extinct species is an excuse to mess around with the planet's genetic heritage and say, "oh, look how clever we are."

If we were really so concerned about extinction, I think we would be doing more to preserve the species that currently exist. But hell, why bother worrying about that? Once we know how to bring a species back, we can just go about our merry way. Then it suddenly becomes a question of what species do we *want* around. Hmmm? Anybody think of that?

Oh gee, this rare mountain gorilla is in our way. That's okay, just get some samples and eliminate it. We can bring it back later on when we are done.

Sounds absurd, I know. But I don't put anything past humans.

Nothing can possiblai go wrong. Er...possibly go wrong.
Strange, that's the first thing that's ever gone wrong.

Cloning / Extinction. (2)

Talonius (97106) | more than 13 years ago | (#722325)

The first problem you'll have to fight is the groups who are opposed to man playing "God." (I'm not sure where I stand on the issue. It makes me nervous, because it makes me feel like I, or my DNA, could become the property of a company who desires to produce people with my mindset or abilities. I'm also not comfortable with being 100% sure I'm nothing but cells and tissue, but that's another discussion.)

The second problem will be those groups that decide the results are "unnatural" and will do anything to stop them. Think I'm kidding? Mess with the Middle East religions and see how serious they become.

I read somewhere that someone is trying to bring back a woolly mammoth from frozen tusk DNA. It's a great idea, but doesn't it make you wonder? Sure, let's see what a T-Rex really looks like.. but can we make sure "Jurassic Park" doesn't happen please?

In another way, I'm all for cloning. I'm diabetic; clone me a pancreas, PLEASE. One that works.. :-)

-- Talonius

It's good now, but... (2)

elfbabe (99631) | more than 13 years ago | (#722327)

"There is a very hollow echo of a gaur in the birth of that animal to a cow in Iowa," said Kent Redford, an international program scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York. "To say that is a gaur is to disrespect all gaurs in all the places where gaurs live. That animal will never live its life in true gaurdom, to wander in the forests of India and frolic with other gaurs and die and let teak trees grow out of it. That's the gaur I'm working to save."

Have you ever said the word "gaur" so many times it lost all meaning?

Anyway, on to my real point. This may be a great thing, but there is no way it's going to be used responsibly. As the process becomes easier, people will worry less about extinction, because they'll always be able to bring the animals back. And there will be one less barrier to screwing with the ecosystem. Which is bad.

Marissa
I'm not really an elf, I just play one in AD&D.

Breadth of Gene Pool (2)

Mateorabi (108522) | more than 13 years ago | (#722329)

Brining back a single animal from a sample of DNA from an extinct species is one thing. Bringing back an entire population is another. One imideate problem is the need for variation in the gene pool. Trying to bring back an entire population from 1 or 2 samples would lead to inbreading and the like rather quickly.
This is a problem for longer exctinct animals where the # samples is small. Animals who died in the last century should have more samples available, we just have to make sure we use a variety of them.

Just curious (2)

AssFace (118098) | more than 13 years ago | (#722330)

I'm not thinking all that quick right now, but I'm not immediately seeing how you don't follow evolution in your belief, but you do follow survival of the fittest?
I'm not trying to pick a fight, just am curious as what you are getting at. If it is a religious thing, then please don't bother - othersie I am curious.
---------------------------------------- ----------

Re:But what's the point? (2)

RevAaron (125240) | more than 13 years ago | (#722333)

Haven't you ever wanted a second chance after you made an idiotic mistake? This is one way of mankind making good on incredible errors after the fact.

True, mountain gorilla may be on its way out now, but that doesn't mean we won't have a collective change of heart 50 years after they're all gone.


Of course I have, who hasn't. But in 50 years, there's a good change that the environment of the cloned species will have changed so much that it is not accounted for in the cycle of things. Also, lab raised animals tend not to learn survival skills from their parents, like they would've in the wild. There's a good change reintroduction would be a flop.

As I said in another reply, I did not think about the fact that we maybe able to disect these critters toward creating new medicines or zoo-things for ourselves.

Re:But what's the point? (2)

RevAaron (125240) | more than 13 years ago | (#722334)

I'm not saying we should let the sick die (as in, endangered), but was not thinking in a "how would these species help us?" sort of sense you have. Sure, they may look good in zoos, or provide some insight into our own bodies and medicine. I was thinking more in an ecological sense, where introducing species into non-native environments tends to be a bad thing.

Re:But what's the point? (2)

RevAaron (125240) | more than 13 years ago | (#722335)

I refuse to believe that in the few thousand years since humans started being "civilized" that we have caused more animal species to become extinct than in the few million years before that. Unless species are becoming extinct at several thousand times the previous rates of extinctions, this is pretty much impossible. Are you trying to say that we are in the middle of a period of mass extinction that even dwarfs the period in which the dinosaurs were wiped out?

I'm not saying that humans have caused more extintions than those that happened by themselves over the millions of years life has existed on this planet. In fact, most (I cannot recall the stat- 99+%?) of new species go extinct, natural selection and all.

What I'm saying is that our civilization has caused more thna our fare share of extintions. Do you argue that fact? A particular species relies on it's habitat, and when that's taken away, it tends not to be able ot survive without it. Habitat is a term that does not only encompass the structural surroundings, but also all of the plants, animals, geological formations, microscopic life, &c.

It's fairly simple- when the ecosystem that a species has coevolved with, in and around is changed abruptly or destroyed, the species may or may not be able to adapt to those changes. When it cannot, it often goes extinct. This change can be natural (meteors, earthquakes, floods, and so on), or unnatural. Examples of unnatural change is the tearing down of a forest or prarie for laying down pavement, creating a farm, or growing grass for cows to graze. I admit, I do not like the term "unnatural," as humans are as "natural" as can be, but surely you get my point.

Is extinction temporary? Depends... (2)

AlephNot (177467) | more than 13 years ago | (#722339)

Don't forget that we can only bring back those species that we have a DNA sample for. For example, the dodo bird was long extinct before we even knew about DNA.

Also, while we may be able to bring back a species, it will be very difficult to recreate the natural habitat of the species, if that has been destroyed as well. It is one thing to see an animal in a zoo; it is quite another to watch it in the wild.

Kewl (2)

ERICmurphy (216776) | more than 13 years ago | (#722342)

I live in Iowa, and it is amazing that an "Asian gaur, a heavily muscled, humpbacked, ox-like animal native to the bamboo jungles of India and Burma" is being born from a damn cow here somewhere near me.

Next thing you know my neighbor will be birthing dinosaurs out of his iguana.

Yes extinction is permanent! (2)

maquina (229173) | more than 13 years ago | (#722344)

I do not think you can entirely bring back an extinct specie. Because even though the ones that are cloned may be the exact same in their genetic pool they *will* be different than the original species. This is because they will act different because they have no role model to copy from. They will act different and will have a hard time surviving, that is until the time they develop new surviving techniques, through natural selection, and then behave like a brand new species

Learning? (2)

voice of unreason (231784) | more than 13 years ago | (#722345)

Umm... A lot of the behavior that makes an animal what it is and enables it to survive is taught to it by it's mother. i.e. a cat not raised by it's mother often doesn't know how to hunt. I'm not sure quite how they'd get around that... Can a cow teach a guar to be a guar? You could try getting humans to teach the clones, it's been done before with orphaned animals, but I'm not sure how it'd be done with extinct species where we don't know enough about their behavior..

other species (2)

grovertime (237798) | more than 13 years ago | (#722346)

as a biologist and biological anthropologist, my focus has largely been in human and societal studies. however, in studying various areas of the americas and west africa, i developed a minor passion in the infamous dodo bird. related to this post, the dodo bird is on tap to be one of the first species (extinct species) to be cloned from their fossilized genetic code. i realize they are not alive to be preserved, but it should be interesting (a little jurassic park action for yeah).

  1. The Meaning of Life [mikegallay.com]

wait, extinction? (2)

ant_tmwx (239616) | more than 13 years ago | (#722347)

wasn't there a point to extinction?

oh yeah, survival of the fittest/luckiest. but don't worry now, dead species, we'll bring you back even tho you didn't quite cut it the first time.

honestly, is there anything dead we can't live w/o? aren't there enough not-extinct-yet babies starving? I'd rather see them fed than an anachronism in a zoo. I mean, we're not quite star trek IV yet, are we?

Does cloning works? (2)

kbg (241421) | more than 13 years ago | (#722348)

Wait a minute they are using cloning. I thought there is a problem with cloning in that way that the cloned animal cells have the same age as the real one when it is born, so for example Dolly the cloned sheep, will have much shorter lifespan than the real sheep. Anybody care to confirm or correct this?

Re:While we're bringing back things from extinctio (3)

FallLine (12211) | more than 13 years ago | (#722350)

I agree 100% on the keyboard thing. But how about:

Techies at computer stores that actually know anything.

Competent and friendly technical support lines.

"Manly" products that might actually hurt you without any warning labels. As opposed to the watered down, idiotproof, disclaimer'ed products of today.

News programs on TV that actually have _some_ worth.

Decent seats on the airlines.

The unapologetic hiring of attractive waitresses and such.

.... ;)

while interesting ... (3)

jetpack (22743) | more than 13 years ago | (#722352)

... this is largely crap. Not that it doesnt work, but the point is more that so many species become extinct every year, we can hardly keep track of them, little less keep up with reproducing them. Not to mention that this doesnt cover all the plant life that becomes extinct.

This is nteresting, and in some way good news, but this is hardly a good reason to stop worrying about destroying natural resources.

What about genetic diversity? (3)

c=sixty4 (35259) | more than 13 years ago | (#722353)

I don't think anything like this is feasible, for the simple reason that a healthy species *needs* genetic variation to survive.

Imagine the inbreeding problems when an entire population is basically copies from one or a few individuals!

There is also the question of whether the ecosystems have adapted to being without the extinct species for so long, that reintroducing that species will have the the same potential for messing up the ecosystem as introducing an alien species.

"in other words, the project is a success..." (3)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 13 years ago | (#722354)

No it's not. The project isn't a success until the organism is born and lives to an age where it can breed and pass it's genes on.

I understand that the goal of this project was simply to birth one extinct animal out of a common animal, but if the almost-extinct-critter doesn't make it to breeding age, then what's the point?

We're getting closer to "Total Control" (3)

Crimplene Prakman (82370) | more than 13 years ago | (#722355)

As a race, we have pushed further and further along a path away from nature. There are many - for want of a better word - "zealots" who claim to be "for nature" etc. Maybe they are right. Maybe that guy in the article claiming that guars should grow up in guar jungles, surrounded by guar trees and guar babies, maybe he's right. But then he can't see the wood for the trees.

So, thousands and thousands of years ago some clever homonid decided that a stick was better at braining things than his fist. That was against nature, no?

Soon after that, another clever homonid found that rubbing sticks together, or banging a rock off another rock, could start fire, making dead things easier and tastier to eat. Was not that also against nature?

And so on. Man (meant in the non-sexist way :-) has spent all his time since then developing new and better ways to use his surroundings. We have McDonalds, Pepsi, Nike, Ford, etc., all different ways to do the same things we've been doing since before we were we - eating, drinking, getting from place to place. Except now we do it in style.

We have been farming for many thousands of years. Is that not against nature?

Time perhaps for some new-age philosopher to step forth from the ranks and announce the radical thought that maybe man was right to develop the stick. Maybe man was right to develop the wheel, even. And fire. And clothing. And multi-storey homes. And alternative modes of transport. At the rate we're going, heck even another place to live would be handy, as we're apparently ruining this planet as a habitat. But the point is we've had some power over nature for thousands of years, and no-one has drawn the line for us yet. Why stop now?

/prak
--
We may be human, but we're still animals.

Nothing new here (3)

jheinen (82399) | more than 13 years ago | (#722356)

They've been using surrogate mothers for endangered species for a long time. It goes back at least to 1983, when scientists used a common Eland antelope as a surrogate for the rare Bongo antelope. In 1989 they used a common housecat as a surrogate for the endangered Indian Desert Cat. Cloning has been around for awhile. Cloning endangered and extinct species and then using surrogates isn't exactly a breakthrough idea.

-Vercingetorix

Re:Nothing new here (3)

Mateorabi (108522) | more than 13 years ago | (#722357)

But those weren't cloning I don't think. Those were 'only' endangerd species not extinct ones. I believe that they simply used artoficial insemination. No cloning or anything. And the surogate was so close to the real thing to make things much easier.

Re:What about genetic diversity? (3)

AndrewTaylor (126476) | more than 13 years ago | (#722358)

There are extant species [utas.edu.au] which have no genetic variation - the entire population is a clone. If you'd prefer a mamalian example, the limited gneteic variation of the Cheetah is well known - but people often forget that until recently it was very successful with a huge range across Africa and Asia - one of the most widespead of all mammals. Andrew Taylor

Re:Nothing new here (3)

startled (144833) | more than 13 years ago | (#722359)

This is, in fact, new. This has never been done: "Bessie's gaur, named Noah and due to be born next month, was cloned from a single skin cell taken from a dead gaur".

It may seem like an obvious extension of cloning and surrogates, but it's not nearly that simple. They've been trying to get this sort of thing quite some time. One issue with dead animals is how well their DNA has been preserved-- that's a big issue with cloning the wooly mammoth.

The coolest new possibility the article mentioned at the end was this: Even if that cloning effort is successful, it will be impossible to re-create a breeding population of bucardos, because cells have been preserved from just one sex. That means a mate will have to be created.... The ACT team hopes to gain permission from Spanish authorities to use recently developed molecular techniques to give some of the preserved bucardo cells a male chromosome taken from a related goat.

Extinction Permanent? Yes and No (3)

fm6 (162816) | more than 13 years ago | (#722360)

This is not a new issue. Ever since DNA was discovered, it's been obvious that as long as you had DNA from a species, you could re-create individuals from that species. You might have to wait a long time for the necessary technology, of course.

But is recreating individuals the same as preserving the species? Absolutely not.

A species doesn't exist in isolation. It exists as part of a larger natural community. ("Ecosystem" is a hot-button word, so I won't use it.) It preys, and is preyed upon, it has symbiotic and parasitic relationships ... in short, it has thousands of relationships with the rest of the world, most of which science simply doesn't understand.

Consider the Aurochs. There's no shortage of Aurochs DNA -- you ingest some every time you visit McDonald's. There have even been attempts to create "new" Aurochs by backbreeding from their domestic descendants, the cows. But even if you could create a "real" Aurochs, you'd have nothing but a scientific curiousity that can't survive without ongoing human maintenance. That all you'll have until somebody also re-creates the Aurochs natural environment. That's not going to happen. Even if we had the motivation and the resources (and we can't even supply that for existing environments) we don't know enough about the forests of Bronze-age Europe to recreate them.

A more modern example is the chimp. Unlikely to go extinct, even without fancy DNA techniques. They're too popular in zoos and labs. But the environment needed by an authentic wild chimp is more or less gone already, and I doubt if it will be fully understood before it is gone completely.

There's a poignant description of "technically non-extinct" animals in Bruce Sterling's latest (and best) Distraction&a mp;l t;/a> [amazon.com]

__________

Do we really want to save animals from extinction? (4)

Skim123 (3322) | more than 13 years ago | (#722361)

Extinction weeds out those species that can't adapt to the current environment. Why should we worry about saving unfit species? Where the hell are we gonna keep them? Preserves? Zoos? Scientific labs? Folks, their species are dying for a reason, because they can't adapt to the changing environment (most likely the encroachment of man). In any case, let the fit live, and let the unfit die. It's seemed to work just fine that way for hundreds of millions of years before man was around...

human surrogates (4)

konstant (63560) | more than 13 years ago | (#722362)

We have neanderthal DNA extracted form ancient bones. Anybody want to be the mom of a slope-headed baby?


-konstant
Yes! We are all individuals! I'm not!

But what's the point? (4)

RevAaron (125240) | more than 13 years ago | (#722363)

The reason (most) of these species are extinct is a loss of habitat caused by "civilization" moving in and changing it, whether to take resources or to build houses or businesses. In most cases of extintions caused by such a situation, the native habitat of these plants and animals are still in the state they're in when the species went extinct.

So, what am I trying to say? With no habitat to go back to, to repopulate, what's the point of bringing them back? Just to say we can do it? Putting them in a non-native habit will simply change that environment, possibly bringing other species to extintion. Put them in a reserve or zoo? Completely artificial- they would be serving the purpose for which they evolved, so why bother?

While we're bringing back things from extinction.. (5)

Mr. Neutron (3115) | more than 13 years ago | (#722364)

Here are some suggestions for what they should bring back:

Desktop environments that don't require a PIII 800 to run smoothly.

Websites that aren't full of tables, frames, and layers that take two minutes to render.

Newsgroups that aren't full of illiterates, flames, and spam.

Those elegant, sturdy, indestructable IBM keyboards that you could spill coffee on and they would still work.

/. polls that are interesting and enlightening, and actually tell us something about the current readership.

JennyCam, back when Jenny was naked all the time.

Local BBSes, back when they were cool and had real geeks on them.

New Star Trek series that don't suck.

That's about all that I can think of now. Anyone care to add to the list?

--
"How many six year olds does it take to design software?"

Habitat Timesharing (5)

victim (30647) | more than 13 years ago | (#722365)

Great! Now we can destroy most of the remaining habitat for commercially nonviable species and timeshare it. Say something like...
  • 2010-2040: gazelle, lions, elephants
  • 2040-2070: wildebeast, leopards, rhinos
  • 2070-2100: gnus, hyenas, buffalo
  • 2100-2130: repeat...
I'm sure we can make it a big event, the changing of the beasts. Maybe switch over a different ecosystem every four years, sell tickets to the extermination of the previous tenant species and the release of the new creatures.
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