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The Process Of De Extinction And Its Ecological And Moral Consequences

1783 words - 8 pages

Imagine going to a local zoo and seeing fantastic extinct and endangered species previously showcased only in museums. Like the scientists in the movie Jurassic Park, the idea of bringing back an extinct species is indeed possible. Every year, thousands of species go extinct that we haven't even discovered yet. With this, several groups are currently working on the process of de-extinction. However, the process of bringing back an extinct species is fairly difficult compared to the cloning of extant animals. Instead, it requires a method called interspecies nuclear transfer.[1]
The process of somatic cell (interspecies) nuclear transfer is an extremely complex process that requires multitude of geneticists and various types of biologists. The process starts by reconstructing the genome, and this can become difficult, because after an organism dies its DNA slowly decays and it can also mix with other organisms' DNA. However, like Jurassic Park, similar species have a higher chance of having identical DNA. This can act as a blueprint for the extinct animal. For instance, Shapiro has been able to sequence the band-tailed pigeon, who is the closest relative to the extinct passenger pigeon, to assemble a genome.[3] In order for this process to work, the cells of the non-endangered species need to sustain the amending of the somatic cell nucleus to an embryological stage, which is hard to accomplish in most species. This microsome transfer can also be used to introduce alternate chromosomes after introducing nucleic acids and repairs into the cell. Before implantation, the new living tissue can be preserved at any stage.[1] Afterwards, these changes are initiated into a living cell with the use of a petri dish to grow the new tissue. However, birds’ cells prefer to exist inside a body, which makes them complicated to culture. Once these cells move to the restored habitat, they have to undergo behavioral modifications. For example, the passenger pigeon would be introduced into a setting of band-tailed parents. Scientists would have to curb the diet and migration habits of the newly-formed passenger pigeons in their environment so each succeeding generation will bear a closer resemblance to its original state.[3]
In the past few years, these groups have had relative success, but they have faced some challenges. For instance, Jose Folch's worked on the extinct bucardo mountain goat after the last female died. However, Folch's work underwent challenges. After scientists were able to successfully deliver one of the clones, it underwent complications in its lungs due to a large lobe. Unfortunately, it died roughly ten minutes later.[2] Years later, at the Audubon Institute Center for Research of Endangered Species, Dresser was able to successfully implant a frozen embryo of the African wildcat into a house cat. Since this accomplishment, Dresser and her colleagues have transferred four different interspecies embryos, which all have resulted in live...

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