The Daily Matter

Hello dodo: bringing species back from extinction

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 March, 2013, 9:21pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 March, 2013, 11:04am

While protecting endangered species was the hot topic last week, the folks at National Geographic had something else on their minds: could extinct species be brought back from the dead?

Their blogger Carl Zimmer writes: 

The dodo and the great auk, the thylacine and the Chinese river dolphin, the passenger pigeon and the imperial woodpecker—the bucardo is only one in the long list of animals humans have driven extinct, sometimes deliberately. And with many more species now endangered, the bucardo will have much more company in the years to come. Fernández-Arias belongs to a small but passionate group of researchers who believe that cloning can help reverse that trend.

The notion of bringing vanished species back to life—some call it de-extinction—has hovered at the boundary between reality and science fiction for more than two decades, ever since novelist Michael Crichton unleashed the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park on the world. For most of that time the science of de-extinction has lagged far behind the fantasy. Celia’s clone is the closest that anyone has gotten to true de-extinction. Since witnessing those fleeting minutes of the clone’s life, Fernández-Arias, now the head of the government of Aragon’s Hunting, Fishing and Wetlands department, has been waiting for the moment when science would finally catch up, and humans might gain the ability to bring back an animal they had driven extinct.

“We are at that moment,” he told me.

I highly recommend the full article Bringing Them Back to Life, where Zimmer also asks -- is doing this is a good idea? 

Last week, National Geographic hosted a TedX DeExtinction Webcast with Revive and Restore, a movement looking to do just this. 

How it works:

And the project in more detail from Stewart Brand, lifelong environmentalist and editor of the Whole Earth Catalog.