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article imageOp-Ed: De-extinction project aims to bring extinct species back to life

By Malysa Stratton Louk     Jun 20, 2014 in Science
Revive & Restore aims to bring back the dead in a de-extinction process. The Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback project attempts to use museum-specimen DNA to bring the passenger pigeon back from extinction after Martha died 100 years ago.
Humans spent centuries sending the passenger pigeon into extinction and by the early 1900s, wild passenger pigeons no longer existed. Early searches for any remaining wild birds, nests or colonies were unsuccessful, despite the $1500 reward being offered by the American Ornithologists' Union.
Attempting to breed the few remaining passenger pigeons in captivity proved even more difficult and the wild birds were not able to cope with life in captivity. The few remaining flocks quickly died, leaving only Martha who died on 01 September 1914 at the Cincinnati Zoological Garden.
The passenger pigeon officially became extinct despite the estimated 3 to 5 billion in existence in the 1600s during the time of America's discovery. In 300 years, the population went from making up 25 to 40 percent of America's bird population to zero.
Now, 100 years later, humans are attempting to bring them back in The Long Now Foundation's de-extinction project, Revive & Restore. Using the museum-specimen DNA, scientists hope to bring the species back from extinction and repopulate the world with the extinct species.
There's more — remember the woolly mammoth?
Scientists at Revive & Restore are working to bring the woolly mammoth back from extinction by injec...
Scientists at Revive & Restore are working to bring the woolly mammoth back from extinction by injecting woolly mammoth cells into elephants.
Royal BC Museum, Victoria, BC / Rob Pongsajapan
Of course not. They haven't been around for thousands of years. Yet the group is devoted to bringing back this ancient species by injecting mammoth genes into elephants.
In 2003, Spanish and French scientists impregnated an ibex-goat hybrid with a clone of Celia, the last bucardo, or Pyrenean ibex, who died a few years prior sending the species into extinction.
The Pyrenean ibex  or bucardo  went extinct a few years before scientists attempted to resurrect the...
The Pyrenean ibex, or bucardo, went extinct a few years before scientists attempted to resurrect the species in 2003. The cloned animal was a de-extinction success that lasted 10 minutes before the species once again died due to a lung deformity.
Photo Courtesy Zaragoza Salvaje tu EcoBlog
The resurrected species only lived 10 minutes before dying due to lung deformities.
Science may not be there quite yet, but Revive & Restore is well on its way towards bringing the extinct animals back into existence — in one form or another. While it may be possible in the near future, is it really a good idea?
Images from Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park come to mind.
Photo Courtesy Boogeyman13
Photo Courtesy Jesse Means
Although we're not talking about bringing T-Rex and his gang back, pigeons and woolly mammoths may pose some of the same dangers. What happens when the resurrected species doesn't behave as it once did? What happens when the undead return and disrupt the natural order of things?
Just because we can, doesn't mean we should. Historically, human attempts to control the environment and animal populations haven't exactly produced great results. De-extinction efforts are likely to cause more problems then they solve — just another case of humans interfering and making themselves a bigger mess to try and clean up later.
What do you think?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about extinct passenger pigeon, animal extinction, Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback, Revive & Restore, Dna
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