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Scientists to Ressurect Woolly Mammoths, Other Extinct Animals Amidst Ethical Controversy

Aug 26, 2016 05:41 AM EDT
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The idea of de-extinction or resurrecting extinct animals have been classified to be fiction in the previous years. However, the high-paced advancement of science and technology is now making the once-thought-to-be-impossible feat to be within reach.

University research labs and non-governmental have already started on projects that could bring back extinct animals. Furthermore, the International Conservation of Nature has also issued its first set of guidelines on resurrecting extinct species.

An Issue Shrouded in Ethical Controversy

However, the de-extinction process remains to be an ethical issue. One of the biggest hurdle de-extinction scientists need to overcome is the huge difference in the ecology between today and what the extinct animals have during their days. Trying to solve the issue, researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, released a paper recommending several ways in order to make the science of de-extinction evolve to maximally benefit ecological communities and ecosystem.

"Good conservation is a holistic science that acknowledges the fact that many species interact in complex ways," said Douglas McCauley, an ecologists at UCSB and lead author of the paper, in a press release. "The rules in that complex web of life don't stay static but evolve dynamically."

Making De-Extinction Ecologically Smart

The paper, published in the journal Functional Ecology, recommends three ways on how to make the science of de-extinction more ecologically smart. Their first recommendation is to resurrect species that were recently extinct, instead of those who died out thousands of years ago. By doing so, the resurrected animals will not have a hard time adapting to the environment because very few changes have occurred

Their second recommendation is to resurrect species that have irreplaceable ecological functions. The researchers suggested that Christmas Island pipistrelle bat and Réunion giant tortoise are very good examples for the first two recommendations.

Both species were considered to be "young" extinctions. The pipistrelle bat is the only insect-eating bat in its habitat, while the giant tortoise served as a seed delivery system helping in the dispersal of seeds throughout islands in the Indian Ocean.

Lastly, researchers recommend that scientists should only resurrect animals that can be restored to functionally meaningful abundance, which means they should have enough numbers to perform their functions well to affect the ecosystem.

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