Dinosaurs are coming back to Earth!
Wait, oh no, I’m sorry. I exaggerated a little too much. We aren’t turning the world into Jurassic Park, but scientists are working on ways to bring “back” different animals that have gone extinct through the process of de-extinction, genetic rescue, or genetic assistance. That’s right, animals we thought we said goodbye to forever may be roaming freely again.
Over the last 10,000 years, entire species have been wiped out due to a mixture of climate change and human intervention. But The Long Now Foundation is set to bring back some beloved species by implementing advancements in biotechnology with new projects to revive extinct species that meet certain criteria.
What is that criteria? Here is the chart they use:
There are so far 25 animals that have met the criteria for scientists to attempt to revitalize. Let’s look at a few:
The dodo is one of the more notable of the extinct. The flightless bird had no natural predators, which made them entirely fearless of humans. Humans eventually destroyed their habitats and sailors hunted them into extinction.
Not far from the existing Zebra, the quagga was accidentally hunted into extinction in the mid-1800’s. The final quagga died at the Amsterdam Zoo in 1833, but it was not realized until later that is was the last of its kind. There has been a project in effect since 1987 working to revive the original quagga and is aimed to “rectify the tragic mistake made over a hundred years ago through greed and short-sightedness”
The Woolly Mammoth
What would Ice Age be without the woolly mammoth? Woolly mammoth carcasses have been frozen and preserved, which has allowed scientists to access well-preserved DNA. The last isolated population of woolly mammoths lived on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean until 4,000 years ago, but scientists contest whether we were to blame for their extinction. They’re closest living relative is the Asian Elephant.
Heath Hens were prairie chickens that humans literally ate into extinction. They were also the bird used at the pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving, not a turkey. Heath hens were one of the first bird species that Americans tried to save from extinction. In 1791, a bill “for the preservation of heath-hen and other game” was introduced in the New York State legislature. It clearly did not work as the last Hen died in Martha’s Vineyard in the summer of 1928.
The world’s largest woodpecker is extinct due to habitat destruction and was last seen in 2004. In 2006, there was a $10,000 reward put out by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. So if you’re looking for some quick cash…
The moa was an impressive animal growing up to 12 feet tall and weighing around 500 lbs. It was overhunted circa 1400 and its closest existing relative is the tinamou.
Fresh Water Dolphin
The fresh water dolphin was reported last year to have only 3 remaining on earth. Due to competition and habitat destruction, the breed has become rare, and can’t survive in captivity either.
For an animal to be brought back to life, it must be desirable to humans, serve a purpose to the ecosystem and be easy to reintroduce back into the environment.
Even though dinosaurs didn’t make the cut, there’s already an impressive list of animals we may see again in our lifetime. Read more about the project here, and let us know what animal you would like to see brought back from extinction, leave us a comment!