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Tinkering With Nature: The Process Of De Extinction

1756 words - 8 pages

Imagine going to a local zoo and seeing fantastic extinct and endangered species previously showcased only in museums. As portrayed in the movie Jurassic Park, bringing back an extinct species is indeed possible. Every year, thousands of species go extinct that we have not even discovered yet. In order to combat the issue of endangered and extinct species, several groups are currently working on the process of de-extinction. However, the process of bringing back an extinct species is very difficult compared to the cloning of extant animals. Instead, it requires a method called interspecies nuclear transfer [1]. Ecological and ethical considerations also arise with the process of ...view middle of the document...

Before implantation, the new living tissue can be preserved at any stage [1]. Afterwards, these changes are initiated in a living cell with the use of a petri dish to grow the new embryo. However, birds’ cells prefer to exist inside a body, which makes them complicated to culture. These birds' cells would then be placed into a band-tailed pigeon's embryo. Once these birds move to the restored habitat, they will 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. Thus, each succeeding generation will bear a closer resemblance to its ancestral form [4].
As the passenger pigeon is being considered for de-extinction among scientists, in the past few years, some groups have had relative success with other species, but they have faced some staggering challenges. For instance, Jose Folch worked to restore the extinct bucardo mountain goat after the last female died. After scientists were able to successfully deliver one of the clones, it suffered complications in its lungs due to a large lobe. Unfortunately, it died roughly ten minutes after its delivery [3]. At the Audubon Institute Center for Research of Endangered Species, Dr. Betsy 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 births [2]. Michael Archer also was able to bring back the southern gastric-brooding frog using somatic cell nuclear transfer [5]. However, he faced issues, in that the process requires fresh eggs, and frogs only breed for a short period of time during the year [8].
Looking forward, scientists hope to continue bringing back extinct and endangered species of animals. For instance, In China, Dayuan Chen hopes to increase the number of the Giant Pandas, which is currently endangered. In preparation, they were able to fuse the panda's skeletal muscle, uterus, and gland cells in the laboratory with a rabbit's egg. However, size became an issue, since a rabbit is not physically able to produce large enough eggs for a baby panda to grow. To solve this obstacle, Chen hopes to acquire the eggs of black bears, which are killed during hunting seasons in the United States. They plan to use the black bears' eggs with frozen panda bear cells to create cloned Giant Panda embryos to implant female black bears in zoos [1]. Other scientists, such as Sergey Zimov aspire to bring back extinct species like the wooly mammoth. He ultimately wants to recreate over a hundred thousand wooly mammoths as a means of conservation, and he feels bringing back only a few would not be a success. In preparation, he created a preserve at Pleistocene Park in Siberia as a means of housing the mammoths [7].
The idea of...

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