Monday, December 29, 2008

Pleistocene Park Redux

The idea of resurrecting critters from long ago is picking up interest. A story out of Canwest suggests that genetics has been traveling apace.

Would you pay $100 to see a woolly mammoth munching on grass? How about Neanderthals building a fire, or a sabre-toothed tiger streaking across the prairie? The genetic blueprints for such extinct creatures and humans are emerging from labs around the world. U.S. researchers recently unveiled the mammoth genome and a German team is putting the finishing touches on the genome of our Neanderthal cousins, which is expected early in 2009. Scientists, who once dismissed reviving extinct creatures as little more than science fiction, now find themselves with the tools that might make it possible.

Still not sure it is a good idea. We already have a biome that is optimized for the planet at this time. Other ideas won't work, no matter how much Michael Crichton might have had us believe:

Dinosaurs are too far-gone -- degradation of the DNA over millions of years should keep Tyrannosaurus Rex on the shelf indefinitely. The more recently vanished dodo bird, great auk, and ancient bears, wolves and tigers are possible candidates for revival, as is the Neanderthal, which died out about 30,000 years ago.

May we live in interesting times.

1 comment:

  1. I have no qualms about resurrecting a mammoth or sabre-toothed tiger. In fact, I'd love to see it. But I figure if we start resurrecting hominid species, we're in for some ethical dilemmas.