De-extinction? Why the woolly mammoth and other lost animals really are gone forever

4-29-2019 ti mammoth feat
Scientists in Japan found some mostly intact DNA-containing compartments called nuclei in the cells of this Siberian mammoth that was frozen for 28,000 years. Image: Cyclonaut/Wikimedia

This information undoubtedly will disappoint “Jurassic Park” fans, but it comes from an expert—Beth Shapiro, the UGA alumna and evolutionary biologist who wrote the book “How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction.”

During her talk, “Can—and Should—Technology Reverse Extinction?,” Shapiro introduced the audience to the field of ancient DNA and outlined the science required to bring a species back from extinction. Essentially, researchers can’t clone a woolly mammoth if they don’t have access to a living woolly mammoth.

“It is not possible to bring back mammoths, or passenger pigeons, or Neanderthals, or Adolf Hitler, or the dodo, or sabre-toothed cats, dinosaurs, the thylacine, the great auk, the Carolina parakeet, or the gastric brooding frog,” said Shapiro.

Related article:  How synthetic biology can solve the problems we've created

Though the woolly mammoth will remain extinct, technological advances make it possible for scientists to create a genetic match for a living creature—your dog, for example. But it would not actually be your dog, according to Shapiro.

“We and everything else are much more than the sequence of the As and Cs and Gs and Ts that make up the code of our DNA,” she said.

Read full, original post: Ecologist dissects the science of de-extinction

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