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If Extinct Species Can Be Brought Back... Should We?

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the gone-for-a-reason dept.

Earth 299

retroworks writes "Rebecca J. Rosen interviews experts in this edition of The Atlantic, to ask about the ethics and wisdom of using cloning, backbreeding, or genome editing. Over 90% of species ever to exist on earth are no more. The article ponders the moral and environmental challenges of humans reintroducing species which humans made extinct."

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Huh? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187109)

Should we be brought back if we go extinct?

Re:Huh? (5, Insightful)

lightknight (213164) | about 2 years ago | (#41187153)

Wonderful ethical question, but if the human race is known for anything, its the non-subscription to the magazine which ponders over such things.

Someone will attempt to bring them back, now argue about how it should be done.

1.) Any species we bring back is going to share the Earth with us for the foreseeable future.
2.) Humans tend not to mix well with other species unless it's already fairly capable on its own. That's why rats, cats, and dogs thrive, while wolves, various forms of trout, and spotted owls are getting kicked in the teeth.
3.) Chances are they will end up in a zoo. That sucks. Safe for human beings, ease of observation, but it's like never being able to move out of your parent's house.
4.) We have no idea if they can even eat / process the food currently available. Bringing back the equivalent of the panda bear or koala might be great for entertainment, but we know nothing about their habits.
5.) The only species we are likely to bring back are those which we consider 'interesting.' So the slug-like Macedonian newt, which squirts pus out of its eyes, probably isn't going to make it (made up species).

If we really want to bring them back, it's going to require like a dozen Earths, one for every few hundred million years. We only have one at the moment. Perhaps we should wait until time-travel is in vogue, thus saving us a lot of work.

Re:Huh? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187191)

While reading your nonsensical comment, something odd occurred; I farted out of my very own asshole! It came as a shock to me because it was my asshole and not someone else's. How could such a strange thing happen to an esteemed individual such as myself? I pondered this for a moment, and then it dawned on me: I shot a fart out of my own asshole because your comment is absolute garbage.

Re:Huh? (3, Insightful)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 2 years ago | (#41187687)

If we really want to bring them back, it's going to require like a dozen Earths, one for every few hundred million years. We only have one at the moment. Perhaps we should wait until time-travel is in vogue, thus saving us a lot of work.

You didn't even have to RTFA... you only had to read the summary. The article is about "reintroducing species that humans made extinct".

Re:Huh? (3, Insightful)

jandersen (462034) | about 2 years ago | (#41187701)

I think there are more fundamental problems: epi-genetics or genomics or whatever the term is now is a very major factor in what makes up the traits of a species - the same set of genes can be expressed in many ways depending on how they are regulated, so it may not be as simple as reconstructing most of the genes of a species; perhaps they need to be 'booted up' in the right way too?

Moral? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187111)

I want my Dodo-burger and my Moa-burger too.

They can wait with the elephant bird and the terror bird until I get peckish again.

Gastornis parisiensis they can keep, I don't want them to tread on my feet.

But more seriously, instead of editing the genes so that Californian Grizzly doesn't eat people, they could do some editing so that they can be employed to pick oranges, that would be the day.

Re:Moral? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187381)

We have a moral, ethical and even culinary duty to find out what dinosaurs tasted like. For science.

Re:Moral? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187411)

Like chicken, duh!

Re:Moral? (4, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#41187531)

No, you don't want Dodo-burger. The dutch sailors who first encountered the birds tried eating them, but concluded the birds were barely-edible and taste terrible. I'm not sure about moa, though.

Re:Moral? (1)

YttriumOxide (837412) | about 2 years ago | (#41187547)

Moa was apparently delicious... hence becoming extinct.

Re:Moral? (2)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 2 years ago | (#41187727)

Don't be too quick to ascribe the extinction of the moa to human consumption alone. The dodo was probably made extinct by the introduction of the sailor's constant shipmate -- the rat -- to Mauritius. Rats are a major problem for any bird (particulary ground-nesting ones) as they really love eggs. We say the Maori hunted the moa to extinction, but isn't it possible that what did for the moa was the introduction of the kiore when by the Maori when they first arrived?

Re:Moral? (2)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#41187739)

...

But more seriously, instead of editing the genes so that Californian Grizzly doesn't eat people, they could do some editing so that they can be employed to pick oranges, that would be the day.

Whoa, slow down. if we get the bears to pick oranges, what are the illegals going to do?

If we're talking about my Mother-in-law... (4, Funny)

drkim (1559875) | about 2 years ago | (#41187115)

If we're talking about my Mother-in-law, I think we all agree the answer is 'no.'

Re:If we're talking about my Mother-in-law... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187141)

If we're talking about my Mother-in-law, I think we all agree the answer is 'no.'

OH MAN! MOTHER-IN-LAW JOKES! CLEVER!

Re:If we're talking about my Mother-in-law... (1)

johnsnails (1715452) | about 2 years ago | (#41187181)

My mother in law was a saint you insensitive clod!

Re:If we're talking about my Mother-in-law... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187453)

How did she get knocked-up?

Re:If we're talking about my Mother-in-law... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187603)

How did she get knocked-up?

Presumably immaculate virginal conception... courtesy of the holy ghost.

Re:If we're talking about my Mother-in-law... (2)

Psychotria (953670) | about 2 years ago | (#41187505)

If we're talking about my Mother-in-law, I think we all agree the answer is 'no.'

Yes, I know you're joking, but your mother-in-law is (was?) not a species. She was an individual belonging to a species.

Re:If we're talking about my Mother-in-law... (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about 2 years ago | (#41187595)

If we're talking about my Mother-in-law, I think we all agree the answer is 'no.'

Yes, I know you're joking, but your mother-in-law is (was?) not a species. She was an individual belonging to a species.

Have you met his mother in law? If she's like mine, she's a different species, too. So was my ex-wife. Definitely a psycho hose-beast.

And no thank you, let them stay safely extinct, please.

That's easy (1)

zrbyte (1666979) | about 2 years ago | (#41187145)

T-Rex burger anyone?

Re:That's easy (5, Insightful)

Nova77 (613150) | about 2 years ago | (#41187165)

My personal theory is that we killed all mammoths because they were delicious. Can't wait to taste one!

Re:That's easy (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#41187271)

"My personal theory is that we killed all mammoths because they were delicious. Can't wait to taste one!"

Actually, if memory serves, according to the paleontologists that is pretty damned close to the truth.

Re:That's easy (4, Interesting)

jamstar7 (694492) | about 2 years ago | (#41187611)

"My personal theory is that we killed all mammoths because they were delicious. Can't wait to taste one!"

Actually, if memory serves, according to the paleontologists that is pretty damned close to the truth.

From what I understand, some Inuits ('Eskimos') have found mammoths frozen in glaciers, eaten them, and found them delicious. Only have anecdoctal evidence, though... They were pretty damned good sized, and one of them would feed a tribe for a couple weeks or so, so it was definitely worth Cro-Magnon's effots to hunt them.

Re:That's easy (5, Interesting)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | about 2 years ago | (#41187285)

While I appreciate the jest, I'm pretty sure that it wouldn't have mattered if the mammoth tasted like boiled gymshorts. They were FUCKING HUGE, and edible. Think about your least favorite food.... Now imagine that was basically the only food around, but in portions that weighed THREE FUCKING TONS. It's basically the only thing to eat, and if you don't like it, you can go without, get sickly, and die.

Re:That's easy (1)

Nova77 (613150) | about 2 years ago | (#41187657)

This might very well be true, but does not stop me from dreaming (and salivating at the prospect).

Re:That's easy (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#41187297)

"My personal theory is that we killed all mammoths because they were delicious. Can't wait to taste one!"

Which might actually be a decent reason to bring them back.

More seriously: we have had bad enough experience with invasive species. Re-creating them, and re-introducing them, are two very different things.

I don't see a lot of harm in the former, as long as precautions AND good isolation techniques are put in place. But I don't think, at our current level of technology, that the latter is even close to a good idea.

Crichton's books were not anti-science; they were intended as warnings. We need to know a lot more before we attempt such things.

Re:That's easy (3, Informative)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 2 years ago | (#41187717)

"Oooh, better not do that, it might go wrong" is "anti-science". The early 19th century Crichtons "warned" that travelling 30 miles in one hour by steam locomotive would cause our brains to explode. You can only reduce ignorance with information, not speculation.

Re:That's easy (2)

eulernet (1132389) | about 2 years ago | (#41187301)

At least, that's the case of the Dodo:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodo#Extinction [wikipedia.org]

Re:That's easy (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 2 years ago | (#41187743)

The dodo tasted rotten. The traditional myth says the dodo was made extinct because people were desperate for food, but there were other sources. The dodo probably went extinct due to predation of eggs by rats... who came on the same ships as the sailors we traditionally accuse of eating the manky dodo flesh.

Re:That's easy (1)

GeekWithAKnife (2717871) | about 2 years ago | (#41187371)

I cannot agree more with the exciting new prospects of bringing back extinct species. We've not had a decent brontosaurus steak since the flintstones. "The McBrontosaurus - I'm loving it"

Re:That's easy (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 2 years ago | (#41187431)

Given one or two seem to be dug out of the ice every now and then perhaps it isn't too late to get a defrosted Mammoth steak.

Re:That's easy (1)

frenchbedroom (936100) | about 2 years ago | (#41187283)

Plebs! Grass-fed free range Apatosaurus in the style of Kobe beef is where it's at (although, I shudder at the thought of how many gallons of beer you'd have to serve to that kind of beast... ^^; ).

Also, count me in for some roasted dodo!

Re:That's easy (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 2 years ago | (#41187319)

Dinachicken [wikipedia.org] !

Mr. Hammond, the phones are working. (3, Funny)

ModernGeek (601932) | about 2 years ago | (#41187149)

This has been beaten and debated in a three part documentary, with a fourth sequel supposedly in the works.

Re:Mr. Hammond, the phones are working. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187279)

This is a UNIX system. I know this!

Re:Mr. Hammond, the phones are working. (0)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | about 2 years ago | (#41187375)

If you didn't know, it actually is [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Mr. Hammond, the phones are working. (1)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 2 years ago | (#41187759)

If you didn't know, it actually is [wikipedia.org] .

Heh... That's funny, Hollywood actually going out of it's way to put cutting edge computer tech in a movie only to get slammed for being unrealistic.

Here it is in action:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaRHU1XxMJQ [youtube.com]

There is even a Linux port:
http://fsv.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

Re: obligatory jurasic park references (3, Interesting)

issicus (2031176) | about 2 years ago | (#41187317)

God help us, we're in the hands of engineers.

Re:Mr. Hammond, the phones are working. (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | about 2 years ago | (#41187369)

Well, as long we spare no expense we should be fine.

Re:Mr. Hammond, the phones are working. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187751)

And there I thought that dinosaurs went extinct long before humans started to exist. Are you maybe a young-earth-creationist or something?

If we exterminated them... (5, Insightful)

AntiBasic (83586) | about 2 years ago | (#41187155)

If we exterminated a species, we have a moral duty to bring it back and eventually, reintroduce it to it's former natural habitat.

Re:If we exterminated them... (5, Funny)

GrpA (691294) | about 2 years ago | (#41187161)

And then make it extinct again when we decide it was a bad idea...

Re:If we exterminated them... (3, Insightful)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | about 2 years ago | (#41187183)

No, if we, as natural animals, cause the extinction of another species it is because it was unfit to survive and should be left extinct. Human beings are not outside nature and its methods of determining which species are worthy of survival.

Re:If we exterminated them... (2)

kanweg (771128) | about 2 years ago | (#41187229)

Or the people who drove it to extinction should be considered unfit because they clearly didn't' have the brain capacity to think that it is not wise to exhaust a source (i.e. handle not in a sustainable way). Unfortunately we can't punish them because they're already dead.

Bert

Re:If we exterminated them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187269)

In the interests of sustainability, I hope that you'll lead the charge into the childless non-future.

Re:If we exterminated them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187313)

and should be left extinct.

Why? Being the victorious species, we can do whatever we please. There is no "should."

Human beings are not outside nature

Precisely. That's why we can bring them back if we choose to do so.

Survival of the fitest, my ass.... (5, Insightful)

TiggertheMad (556308) | about 2 years ago | (#41187339)

No, if we, as natural animals, cause the extinction of another species it is because it was unfit to survive and should be left extinct. Human beings are not outside nature and its methods of determining which species are worthy of survival.

Mother Nature isn't some fucking primitive fertility godless, its a bunch of organisms living together. There is no conscious mind directing a divine order for things. If you want to being back something extinct, go do it. Don't give me this bullshit that 'it wasn't fit to survive'. We change the environment whenever we feel like it.

Re:If we exterminated them... (5, Interesting)

aevan (903814) | about 2 years ago | (#41187363)

By the same token, if we as natural animals can restore an extinct species, it's fit to be brought back and so should be? If we're not outside nature and its method to determine what's worthy, then it's natural if we bring them back....

Pretty sure all extinctions we caused were while tool-using, and now we've just got better tools. We're already past the natural stage of survival and propagation, and fully into the dominate and transform. This would just be the responsibility and restoration aspect. We've been playing god for a while now, might as well go full out and try the life-bringer part.

Though if we ever cross that goal post we'll need to come up with a good antonym for extinction.

Re:If we exterminated them... (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 2 years ago | (#41187763)

You're forgetting the effects of habitat destruction and the introduction of non-native species. Reintroducing many species would mean eliminating the introduced predators that killed them. Good luck in eliminating the ship rat from ... ooh... 90% of the world's surface.

Re:If we exterminated them... (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 2 years ago | (#41187417)

No, if we, as natural animals, cause the extinction of another species it is because it was unfit to survive and should be left extinct. Human beings are not outside nature and its methods of determining which species are worthy of survival.

Tell that to the North Atlantic Cod
Or the Southern Atlantic Jack Mackerel
Or the Atlanto-Scandian Herring
Or the California Sardine
Or the Pacific Yellowtail Flounder
Or about 20 other species of fish who have been driven to the brink of extinction by overfishing

It's one thing to drive a species to extinction by accident, it's entirely another thing to do it on purpose, out of naked greed.

Re:If we exterminated them... (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 2 years ago | (#41187647)

no that is out of finding them tasty and good with fried potatoes. greed would be us killing them because we want all of the water they live in to ourselves.

Re:If we exterminated them... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187775)

Greed is not issuing a ruling that they are endangered (to let the stocks recover), all because of short-term gain.

Re:If we exterminated them... (4, Interesting)

Xest (935314) | about 2 years ago | (#41187501)

This is somewhat true, but you've only got half the picture.

The other half the picture is that if we continue to consume species to the point of extinction then we reduce biodiversity, if we reduce biodiversity continuously then eventually we become the ones at risk, and like other species, as you say, we are not outside nature.

By making the concious decision to not whipe out, and to possibly even reintroduce species, then we maintain healthy biodiversity, and hence protect ourselves in the long run.

Some people think that this would never be a real problem, but the collapse of fish stocks is already a major threat to some food supplies across the globe.

Neither view is wrong, both are valid, the difference is by maintaining or even increasing biodiversity, we protect ourselves from nature choosing us as the future victims of natural selection due to a collapse in biodiversity.

Re:If we exterminated them... (2)

PixetaledPikachu (1007305) | about 2 years ago | (#41187607)

No, if we, as natural animals, cause the extinction of another species it is because it was unfit to survive and should be left extinct. Human beings are not outside nature and its methods of determining which species are worthy of survival.

..and I assume that human's ability to bring them back also part of being inside nature and it's process to determine which species are worthy of survival?

Re:If we exterminated them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187213)

If artificial tech was clearly the culprit in the extinction, then why not re-animate. American Bison didn't go extinct- but if they had, would be a justified candidate for re-animation as the rifle and money put them at unusual risk.

Mammoth? Not so sure. Humans may have been involved in their extinction- but using more "natural" predation goals.

Concerns about impacts of reintroduced species on current ecosystems are overstated- nature adapts irrespective of our ethical judgement..
It's all relative. Red in tooth and claw.

Re:If we exterminated them... (1)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | about 2 years ago | (#41187321)

I don't really see the difference between us driving the mammoth to extinction and the bison to extinction (If we did.)

We killed them for food, their skin and other materials, and as a right of passage. Money was used in the bison trade to obtain things that weren't available there already. I'm pretty sure primitive H. Sapiens Sapiens, and H. Sapiens Neanderthalis, both made things out of mammoths that they traded for things they couldn't make themselves. Like sex......Except for the Neanderthal furries. Those were pretty weird.

Re:If we exterminated them... (2, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#41187615)

We killed bison with the express aim of making them go extinct. Part of the conflict between European settlers and the natives. As the natives in some regions were dependant upon the bison for food, settlers started an effort to kill the bison off. No food for the natives would make it much harder for them to fight.

Re:If we exterminated them... (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 2 years ago | (#41187779)

But there's another theory about the mammoth: disease. The last mammoths were in America, and round about the time of their extinction, the fossil record shows a notable rise in deformities, suggesting the possibility that the humans crossing the land-bridge to Siberia brought in a new disease.

How can we know for sure which species were a direct case of hunt-to-extinction...?

Re:If we exterminated them... (1)

maxwells_deamon (221474) | about 2 years ago | (#41187367)

Smallpox?

Re:If we exterminated them... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#41187415)

"If we exterminated a species, we have a moral duty to bring it back and eventually, reintroduce it to it's former natural habitat."

I'm not so sure I would take that TOO literally. There is something to be said for evolution, and evolution does not, in itself, create a moral obligation to protect something against which you might be competing.

But if you mean "unnecessary" extinction, due merely to ignorance or something like corporate profit motive, then I definitely agree with you.

But not ALL extinctions are bad. That's how we got here.

Obligatory Carlin? (5, Insightful)

Xelios (822510) | about 2 years ago | (#41187159)

Re:Obligatory Carlin? (1)

frenchbedroom (936100) | about 2 years ago | (#41187295)

Sing it from the fucking mountaintop, Brother Carlin.

Stone Age Or Neanderthal (5, Interesting)

qbitslayer (2567421) | about 2 years ago | (#41187189)

I want to see a stone age man/woman brought back, or preferably a Neanderthal. I want to see if they are as stupid as modern thinkers believe. Just a thought.

Re:Stone Age Or Neanderthal (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187223)

I guess it might be feasible to bring some species of Homo back to life if there is DNA of sufficient quality available. However, we can never reconstruct their culture. Cro-Magnon was biologically identical to current man, but it's society would probably be quite different and would be the more interesting part.

Re:Stone Age Or Neanderthal (1)

qbitslayer (2567421) | about 2 years ago | (#41187233)

I just want to conduct a few scientific experiments. For example, send a bunch of Neanderthal kids to school and see if some can learn math and physics and eventually get a college degree.

Re:Stone Age Or Neanderthal (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187287)

Republicans do it, so it should be a piece of cake for them.

Re:Stone Age Or Neanderthal (-1, Troll)

jamstar7 (694492) | about 2 years ago | (#41187633)

Except the Tea Party varian of Republicans has an aversion to scientific truth. They still claim Jesus rode a T-Rex. Definitely a lesser species.

Hmm... I wonder... If a cross is enough to turn a vampire, would a copy of Darwin work on a Tea Partyer?

Re:Stone Age Or Neanderthal (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#41187573)

The Neanderthal would probably take a look at our civilization and complain:

Look, after all that we have done for you kids, and this is all that you come up with? We worked really hard to provide you with a good future, and we really think that you could have done much better . . . etc."

It sends a strong message (4, Funny)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | about 2 years ago | (#41187217)

We made a species extinct, then brought it back, then made it extinct again!

No flightless bird f*cks with humanity.

Fun with ambiguous headlines (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41187257)

If Extinct Species Can Be Brought Back... Should We?

Last time I checked we weren't dead yet. And who'd bring us back if we were?

Re:Fun with ambiguous headlines (1)

aglider (2435074) | about 2 years ago | (#41187263)

The apes and the dolphins. Whoever evolves first.

Re:Fun with ambiguous headlines (2)

Artifakt (700173) | about 2 years ago | (#41187487)

The dolphins don't live on islands, they live around islands. They will need to be able to get onto an island to build Humanasic Park. They also are very far from evolving hands, which they will need to drive electric SUVs and push the buttons on UNIX systems. If the apes bring us back, they will chase us on horseback and make us wear dirty leather loincloths. I'm not seeing an upside to this.

Re:Fun with ambiguous headlines (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about 2 years ago | (#41187641)

Well, the upside is, if the dolphins do bring us back, we'll get to teach 'em why we'd kill Flipper for a tuna sandwich...

No! (2)

aglider (2435074) | about 2 years ago | (#41187259)

Did "Jurassic Park" teach nothing?

Re:No! (3, Funny)

dbet (1607261) | about 2 years ago | (#41187303)

It taught me that an 11-year-old can figure out how to operate a proprietary security system in 4 minutes.

Re:No! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187355)

The truth is that Jurassic Park was a documentary. Jeff Goldblum is a real scientist playing an actor playing a scientist. (Prior to his work in Jurassic Park, Jeff Goldblum developed top secret technology that would allow vehicles to pass through solid matter -- such as mountains.)

It is unfortunate that people still aren't allowed on the "Jurassic Park" island but that is no reason why we can't let a few harmless dinos loose on the continent....

Re:No! (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | about 2 years ago | (#41187389)

Don't make a second sequel just for the sake of it?

Re:No! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187403)

I, too, get my life lessons from movies! I haven't smoked pot since I saw Reefer Madness [wikipedia.org] , nor travelled by air since I saw Snakes on a Plane [wikipedia.org] . And now that I've seen Alien [wikipedia.org] , I think space travel is far too risky. The Curiosity rover is neat and all, but there's far too great a chance that it will wake up some race of face-raping aliens.

As long as... (2)

LMahesa (1582059) | about 2 years ago | (#41187315)

... all the genome edits are open sourced.

New technique makes it all possible now (5, Informative)

wombatmobile (623057) | about 2 years ago | (#41187333)

Ancient DNA has proven difficult to sequence or clone, because it is fragmentary, and most of it breaks down into single strands after it is extracted from bone.

However, a new technique [sciencemag.org] developed at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, sequences single stranded DNA. Scientists just announced they used the technique to fully sequence Denisovan DNA from a bone fragment found in a cave in Siberia. They're going to go back to sequence their library of hundreds of Neandertal DNA specimens.

How long before they make Dolly Denisovan?

Re:New technique makes it all possible now (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#41187557)

The sequencing shouldn't be too hard. Just run it over and over, as many times as you need. You'll get lots of damaged sequences, but you can reassemble the complete one from all those damaged copies. The problem is that you are left with a digital representation of the sequence you need, and turning that back into DNA is a very difficult and very expensive process.

Re:New technique makes it all possible now (1)

Kergan (780543) | about 2 years ago | (#41187753)

The problem is that you are left with a digital representation of the sequence you need, and turning that back into DNA is a very difficult and very expensive process.

That part isn't so hard or expensive, actually, and prices are dropping like a rock. A couple of companies offer gene synthesis services, in fact -- some for under $.5 per base pair. Also, the team that created the first artificial virus documented interesting techniques that should make synthesizing sequences of genes faster, cheaper and less error prone.

Say we do that.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187341)

Say we do that, like we edit the genome and make a somewhat different species from the original, will the "do god exists" question be answered? I mean, do humans then qualify for god?

Two wrongs don't make a right (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#41187351)

Messing with the ecology once again is just going to make things worse. However, I have nothing against bringing them back for exhibition purposes in zoos.

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187393)

I think that if it was "ok" enough to make them extinct, then it's fine to bring them back. (Not saying that it was really ok to make them extinct in the first place).

Whether animals that naturally went extinct should be brought back is another question, but even then, I think for some limited case, like Zoos, larger animals should be safe.

How many individuals? (4, Insightful)

Lotana (842533) | about 2 years ago | (#41187405)

Is it even practical to bring back an extinct specie? I am wondering how many individuals with varied genetic code is required to avoid the issue of inbreeding.

Lets say I found two perfect genetic samples: One male and one female. I placed them into my magical DNA-To-Fertile-Adult(tm) machine, so now have two organisms set to reproduce. But then we run into a problem: Even if those two have 30 offsprings any further mating will result in genetic deterioration due to inbreeding.

So we need to have quite a bit more samples. What is a minimum population count that we need to hit in order to avoid this? Could we possibly have that many different samples of an extinct organism to fulfil such a quota?

Re:How many individuals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187553)

We can introduce random genetic mutations over dozens of generations and breed the best resulting stock together. This is not a problem if we've managed to both clone the embryos and bring them to term. We could also merge DNA from surviving descendent species. The result won't be "pure" but it will still be interesting.

Re:How many individuals? (3, Informative)

Artifakt (700173) | about 2 years ago | (#41187569)

I don't have a source for this, but I seem to remember, in the context of a discussion about Cheetah evolution, the figure of 50 breeding pairs being suggested. It seems cheetahs passed through a period when there were very few of them alive at the same time, a near extinction phase, so that all cheetahs alive today are descended from the same small cluster of breeding pairs. The gestimate there is that 50 is about the minimum that a mammalian species might rebound insead of going extinct, particularly from accumulating lethal recessive genes during the bottleneck phase (I think that's what you really mean where you mention 'genetic deterioration' due to inbreeding). That's a figure the molecular biologists were basing on a complex calculation, particularly limited to mammals on the basis of the evidence they had as of the year 2000 or so, but it sounds like it would apply pretty well to Mastadons or Mammoths, and big predatory marsupials or birds are likely to not be too far from that number either. I'm pretty sure we could get some DNA from 100 different mammoths, less sure if we could narrow that number down by knowing what the mammoth lethal recessives are and screening for them all, or knowing where modern elephant DNA strings could be used to repair damaged samples, or any of the other suggested ways to get a decent sized starting population.

Re:How many individuals? (1)

GNious (953874) | about 2 years ago | (#41187605)

basically, you need to identify a related species, which can interbreed with your newly-recreated-specie and produce viable offspring. This would introduce sufficient genetic variance to ensure at least short-term viability.
But yes, you should use multiple DNA samples, preferably across a significant area, to get a healthy population.

Its for the greater good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187419)

Yes, Especially dinosaurs, on an island, where reality tv stars holiday >:-)

Homosapien messing with Mother Nature H1N1 (0)

NSN A392-99-964-5927 (1559367) | about 2 years ago | (#41187437)

No to upset some Muslim people here as mother nature is counted as God. If you mess around with life RDNA https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ribosomal_DNA [wikipedia.org] you are eventually going to end up with a strain to which you cannot control.

The United States has especially looked for the so called "Holy Grail" of all chemical warfare as Hitler did. What people do not understand is the consequences and or ramifications.

Have a look at Japanese knotweed https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_knotweed [wikipedia.org] "It is lovely when it flowers" brought to the UK in the 1800's and Only now after over 100 years the consequences are being realized as it will break through reinforced concrete and keep on going...... but as always; every year it has a beautiful flower.

Does that not sound familiar? I.E "Put up with the wife as she looks pretty once a year". Sorry same goes for other relationships too.

Should We? Could We? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187455)

Memories...

It will all go horribly wrong but the musical will make it worth the pain.

Headlines (1)

Pikkebaas (1665451) | about 2 years ago | (#41187481)

If headlines can be worded awkwardly, should we?

FOR SURE! (1)

Lisias (447563) | about 2 years ago | (#41187513)

It appears to be the only way to bring back Earth to the Sapient Club!

Not sure why the question even needs to be asked. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187535)

Whether they are extinct because of natural causes or human causes, If we can bring them back, we should bring them back.

They were here once, and they can be here again.

It is a very big if. (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#41187621)

The DNA sequence alone is not enough to recreate the extinct species. Even if we recover the DNA perfectly. The embryo development is a complex process. Unless you have a surrogate uterus at the right temperature that douses the embryo with the right chemicals at the right time, it would not develop normally.

Should humans be brought back? (1)

KarlIsNotMyName (1529477) | about 2 years ago | (#41187629)

I initially read the title "If Extinct Species Can Be Brought Back... Should We?", as asking if we humans should be brought back, after having become extinct. So I'm going to respond to that, but I think it'll apply to these other species as well.

If there were someone capable of bringing us back, that all depends on that species. If their environment doesn't really benefit from having us around, then I wouldn't expecet them to bring us back. And with them being a species with similar capabilities as humans, with technology and a decent understanding of reality, I wouldn't think we could offer something significantly different. And they themselves would probably be the biggest negative impact on their own environment, so they really wouldn't need another species like them.

We should! (0)

Beardmonster (1346161) | about 2 years ago | (#41187643)

Humans should definitely be brought back!

Misread the title (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187737)

I misread the title as "Should we, the humanity, be brought back once we are extinct ?".

Interesting question...

Moa Burgers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41187773)

The New Zealand Moa went extinct because they were damn tasty.
That is a good enough reason to bring them back.

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