• Question: would you like to bring extinct animals back to life

    Asked by ands493jet on 9 Nov 2023.
    • Photo: Elston DSouza

      Elston DSouza answered on 9 Nov 2023:

      Well, personally, I’d like to bring the Tasmanian tiger back as well as the Northern white rhino (there are only 2 individuals left and both are females so they will never exist again). However, this is an ecological question really. Bringing back a species might produce unintended effects on natural ecosystems and throw them off balance.

      Even then, in terms of genetics, it’s impossible to completely bring them back because we would need their DNA from their fossils, which degrades over time. (Have a read thought this article to see why: https://www.science.org/content/article/bringing-back-woolly-mammoth-and-other-extinct-creatures-may-be-impossible)

      The best we can do is edit the DNA and match it up with a closest living relative which really isn’t the same as brining the extinct animal back to life.

      Once they are gone, they are gone forever 😔

    • Photo: Michael Schubert

      Michael Schubert answered on 9 Nov 2023:

      I’d love to bring some extinct animals back to life, especially ones whose extinction has been caused by human actions. In fact, we have saved DNA and other samples from some species that have only recently gone extinct in the hope that, one day, we will be able to learn from them and potentially even bring back some version of them.

      Species that have been extinct for a long time would be more of a challenge because, as Elston said, DNA degrades over time. Even if we can find DNA samples from those plants and animals, there would be information missing from the DNA that we would have to “fill in” with information from the DNA of similar species. We would never be totally sure how close our recreated plant or animal was to the original version.

      It’s important to consider what would happen to the ecosystem if we brought back extinct species, though. Every organism plays a specific role in its ecosystem. Recently extinct species could likely return and fill their original niche in the ecosystem, but if a plant or animal has been extinct for a long time, something else has probably filled its niche. If we brought back something like a Smilodon (a type of large sabre-toothed cat), what would it eat? Would it take food away from modern predators like lions or panthers? Is there enough space and food for modern animals to coexist with ones that used to be extinct?

      It would be fascinating and educational to bring back extinct species, but if we’re being practical, it’s probably a better idea to concentrate on protecting the species we still have so that no more of them go extinct.

    • Photo: Rachel Owen

      Rachel Owen answered on 10 Nov 2023:

      I personally would not. I think it is a better use of our time to prevent our current wildlife from going extinct! It is definitely fun to study extinct animals though!

    • Photo: Sophie Shaw

      Sophie Shaw answered on 10 Nov 2023:

      I don’t think I would. I think bringing these animals back could potentially have unexpected impacts on the balance of the ecosystem!

    • Photo: Hayley Free

      Hayley Free answered on 10 Nov 2023:

      I don’t think I would like to. Although it is very sad that these animals have become extinct they did so for a reason e.g. habitat loss. I worry that if they were to be brought back they would struggle to maintain populations or possibly upset what is currently living. I think it is a better use of our time and resources to focus on the wildlife we still have left and that are in trouble, to maintain their populations and ensure we keep as much diversity as we can.

    • Photo: Martha Mulongo

      Martha Mulongo answered on 10 Nov 2023:

      I would have loved to since they contribute to the existing biodiversity. This brings about the need for all people to play apart of conservation of all existing species so that they do not go extinct.

    • Photo: Rebecca Shaw

      Rebecca Shaw answered on 10 Nov 2023: last edited 10 Nov 2023 2:00 pm

      If I could decide which animals to bring back, I would probably choose animals like bees or other insects that pollinate flowers and help to sustain healthy, diverse environments! Insect declines are happening globally which is worrying for our food security and for our ecosystems health. I do agree with what everyone else has said about not knowing the consequences of reviving animals (especially large ones like the mammoth) and focussing on protecting what we have already (but the tech is still very cool).

    • Photo: Lucy Carver

      Lucy Carver answered on 15 Nov 2023:

      Probably not, I think we should take more care of the animals we have at the moment and make sure they dont go extinct!

    • Photo: Martin Minarik

      Martin Minarik answered on 15 Nov 2023:

      Personally I’d love to, and my favourite candidate for this would definitely be the Thylacine. But I agree with everyone who stressed that we should focus on preventing other species going extinct first. Another major problem pointed out by others is that the extinct species are often gone because we’ve already changed their environment so much that they couldn’t survive there anymore, so there is no point bringing them back in, and I don’t think we should revive species to just keep them in some sort of Jurassic Park type of zoo.

      On the other hand, in cases when we managed to restore and protect the environment first, many endangered species were reintroduced to places where they previously went extinct and they are often really helpful to restoring the ecosystem. A good local example of this is the Pine Marten that went extinct over most of the UK. When reintroduced, they help reduce the spread of the non-native Grey Squirrel, which in turn helps the native Red Squirrels.

      As Michael says, it’ll be easier to revive species that went extinct more recently, but also from the point of their role in the ecosystem, they would be the ones that might be the most helpful to bring back.

    • Photo: Walter Bodmer

      Walter Bodmer answered on 18 Nov 2023:

      Yes I think that could be very interesting but not yet easy to do

    • Photo: Samantha Slater-Lewin

      Samantha Slater-Lewin answered on 27 Nov 2023:

      I think it would be really interesting and exciting to bring extinct animals back to life but I wouldn’t like to do it as I think the environment they would be brought back to might be unsuitable for them to live successfully and might cause more harm than good. It would be better to protect those animals at risk from extinction now so we don’t lose them forever.