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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Rewinding the Dodo Bird???

When Lewis Carroll published Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in 1865, Darwin's first edition On the Origin of Species had been in print for a mere six years. The dodo bird, a native to the island Mauritius, had been extinct for possibly two hundred years before that, as the last recorded sighting was made in 1662. The poor dodo, which had previously enjoyed a life of peace and plenty on the island, was unable to defend its genetic lineage against the Dutch colonists of the 17th century, and vanished from the earth for ever. Or so we believe...
Everybody has won, and all must have prizes!!!

Fast forward to 2007, cavers on an expedition to the island discover a fully intact Dodo skeleton. And thanks to DNA analysis learn that its closest genetic relative is a pigeon....

And this year a far more ancient extinct animal specimen, the woolly mammoth, was found frozen, intact, and in excellent condition.... including its fur, flesh, and blood. Can science soon de-extinct animals?  Which advances in genome sequencing and cloning have brought us, at full speed, to this new realm of possibilities, and should we forge a path into the unknown? Do we dare?

                                             More about mammoth de-extinction

What do you think? Should extinct animals just go the way of the Dodo, to be lost in time? Or should we rewind time and bring them back to life? Might there be good reasons for mankind to advance this technology, so we have the means to resurrect and clone vanished species, or what about present species? For example, what if there were a biological or other deadly threat to life on earth? Should we have a  de-extinction "genetic preservation plan",  in case of disaster ?
 USA Science & Engineering Festival NiftyFifty Speaker Dr. Beth Shapiro is an evolutionary biologist :

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