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Is it possible to bring back extinct animal species?

Review a higher resolution version of this infographic.

Humanity has been engaged in natural life for thousands of years.

We’ve gotten pretty good at it, too—to date, we’ve modified bacteria to make drugs, created products with built-in pesticides, and even glow in the dark dog.

However, despite our many advances in genetic engineering, one thing we are still working on is bringing extinct animals back to life.

But scientists there is working on it. In fact, there is an entire field of biology focused on reviving extinct species.

Use of published information Science newsthis graphic provides a brief introduction to the fascinating field of science known as resurrection biology—or don’t disappear.

The benefits of extermination

First, what is the point of bringing back extinct animals?

There are a number of research benefits that come with extinction. For example, some scientists believe that studying previously extinct animals and how they functioned can help fill in some of the gaps in our current theories of evolution.

Extermination can also have beneficial effects on the environment. This is because when an animal goes extinct, its absence has a ripple effect on all the flora and fauna involved in that animal’s food web.

Therefore, returning previously extinct species to their old ecosystems can help rebalance and restore an unbalanced environment.

There’s even the possibility that extinction will slow down global warming. scientist Sergey Zimov He believes that if we reintroduce a woolly mammoth-like animal back into the tundra, it could repopulate the area, regrow ancient plains, and possibly slow development. melting of glaciers.

How does this work?

The key element needed to recreate a species is its DNA.

Unfortunately, DNA breaks down slowly, and once it’s completely gone, there’s no way to restore it. Researchers believe that DNA has a half-life 521 yearsonly then 6.8 million yearsis believed to be completely gone.

Therefore, species such as dinosaurs have almost no chance of extinction. However, like many more recently extinct organisms dodocould have a chance of conservation.

When it comes to extinction, there is three basic techniques:

① Cloning

This is the only way to create an exact DNA replica of something.

However, this requires a complete genome, so this form of genetic rescue is most effective for recently lost or endangered species.

② Genome editing

Genome editing is the manipulation of DNA to mimic extinct DNA.

There are several ways to do this, but in general, the process involves researchers manipulating the genomes of living species to create a new species that closely resembles an extinct species.

Because the DNA of an extinct species is not an exact copy, this method will only create a hybrid species that resembles the extinct animal.

③ Back breeding

A form of reproduction in which a distinguishing characteristic (horn or color pattern) from an extinct species is returned to living populations.

This requires that the trait still exists at a certain frequency in similar species, and the trait selectively becomes popular again.

Like genome editing, this method does not resurrect an extinct species, but it does resurrect the DNA and genetic diversity that gives extinct species their distinctive characteristics.

Is it really worth bringing back extinct animal species?

While there is a ton of buzz and potential around the idea of ​​bringing back extinct species, there are a few criticisms that I believe our efforts would be better spent on other things.

research on the economy of extinction found that more would go if money were invested in species conservation programs—about two to eight times more species could be saved than if invested in existing chat programs.

in an article in ScienceJoseph Bennett, a biologist at Carleton University in Ottawa, said “if [a] The billionaire is only interested in bringing one species back from the dead and giving it power.”

Bennett added: “But if that billionaire is looking at it in terms of biodiversity conservation, that’s disingenuous. “There are many endangered species that can be saved with the same resources.”

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