Rethinking Extinction

Ryan Phelan is tackling extinction.

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Watch out for the Frog DNA

Watch out for the Frog DNA

"...most extinction "is 99.9

"...most extinction "is 99.9 percent caused by man...'"

That sounds like an evidence-based assertion.

Lady, Put down the

Lady,
Put down the pipette...and walk away. Don't look back, either.

Sequencing the complete

Sequencing the complete genome of the passenger pigeon will be relatively straightforward if sufficient tissue samples can be procured, but the site-directed mutagenesis of the genome of a living pigeon relative to convert it into a passenger pigeon is just too expensive and time-consuming to be worthwhile.

The restoration of extinct life forms raises even deeper ethical issues. Over 99% of the species that have graced our planet have come and gone as part of the natural evolutionary process. However, in recent times primarily due to human activity as much as 40% of the estimated 10 million species living today are facing potential extinction. Human decimation of the wild habitat on land and over-fishing and pollution of the oceans and lakes has apparently increased the natural rate of species extinction in the order of 500-fold. Careful consideration needs to be given as to which species should be re-incarnated and whether this should be undertaken at all. Perhaps it would be better to focus on taking better care of the species that are on the brink of extinction but still here.

To contemplate rehabilitation of ecosystems, keystone species would probably have to be given priority. Interestingly, this is likely to be predators as these maintain the balance in nature to weed out the sick and weak and prevent over-grazing. The passenger pigeon, sadly, would not be a very strong contender.