While sitting watching Jurassic World recently, I was asking myself that very question; and then I thought, surely the science exists but fundamentally we should be asking ourselves whether we should be bringing back species which are extinct? Surely this is all very Hollywood, right?
Not quite. De-extinction actually exists and is the process by which species and organisms that were once extinct are created, typically through cloning. It is also called resurrection biology or species revivalism. For this to work, DNA from the particular species is required as well as a pinch of molecular bio engineering.
Going back to Jurassic Park (1993), the DNA of the first cloned dinosaur was extracted from blood inside a mosquito which was cocooned in amber. While the science behind this is questionable (and for discussion in a different blog), the concept of taking the DNA and cloning it to form a ‘renewed’ species is sound.
Did you know that the Pyrenean ibex which became extinct in 2000 was successfully cloned in 2009? Admittedly she only survived 7 minutes before dying from lung defects, but surely the process just needs to be refined to work.
When it comes to molecular biology, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is used to amplify or copy pieces of DNA and the water used must be essentially free from nuclease and endotoxins to avoid degradation of the nucleic acid.
Just imagine though the havoc that would be caused if there was any trace of DNAse or RNAse left in the pure water. It is essential that water for molecular biology is of the purest quality. Any trace could not only impact on the success of the experiment but essentially could create something completely unexpected. Check out our video on why you should ensure that your water purification system and your consumables are up-to-spec!
“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should!” – Dr. Ian Malcom, Jurassic Park
So the question remains, what will happen in the next 15-20 years? With humans known to have caused the extinction of 322 species in the last 500 years due to the destruction of natural habitats and the like, maybe we should be looking to safeguard the species’ that we do have on the planet rather than resurrecting species removed from natural selection. Or maybe we should get used to seeing some woolly mammoths, dodos and dinosaurs running around the planet from now on.