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Reviving Extinct Species: a Technical Report

  • Date Submitted: 11/30/2013 09:51 AM
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Yesterday’s Tomorrow

Reviving Extinct Species: A Technical Report

Adam Gruder

Mrs. Larkin

June 3, 2013

Spring in the Siberian steppe; young grass poking up between the thawing ground-frost attracts stampeding herds of woolly mammoths, who scare away saber-toothed lions, while drawing the attention of hungry predators; direwolves and Neanderthals eager for the first big kill of the season. No, the image described here is not a vignette from some distant past; nor is it the scene of the latest summer Sci Fi blockbuster. It is a glimpse into possible future which, thanks to new advances in biotechnology, might be coming closer everyday. Ever since Michael Crichton unleashed the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park upon the world, reviving extinct organisms has been at the forefront of popular imagination, but until recently, science has been lagging behind. Now, with new advances in cloning technology and genetic engineering, a growing number of scientists are growing confident that de-extinction is no longer just a dream; that in fact, it may soon become a reality, perhaps even in our lifetimes.1 This optimism however invites another discussion: should we do it? Perhaps it is not our place to bring to life that which failed to survive. Perhaps it is our duty. However, before we begin to worry about our role in regulating the existence of species, some other pressing questions remain: can we do it? And if so, how? The idea of bringing back to life vanished species has certainly sparked the imaginations of many prominent members of the academic community: “What intrigues me is that it’s really cool,” says Hank Greely, director of the Stanford Center for Law and the Biosciences2, “A saber-toothed cat? It would be neat to see one of those.” It has been a long journey for the science of reviving extinct animals, and the field has seen some tremendous strides in the past decade, with the first specimen of a previously extinct...


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