Cloning Extinct Animals Pros and Cons List
Throughout history, animals have come and gone. Some would say that they are happy there are no velociraptors roaming the streets while others would like nothing more than to see a real life woolly mammoth. With advances in science and technology, cloning is not only left in the realms of movies and books. It’s real and it happens. Take Dolly the sheep as an example; Dolly was the first mammal to ever be cloned using a single adult somatic cell (body cell) and was born Almost 21 years ago in July 1996 although scientists didn’t announce her existence until February 1997. But even before then, others had cloned mammals by splitting embryos in a test tube and implanting them into a host.
So is it a good idea to use these techniques to bring back animals from extinction? It would appear that people are split down the line with half thinking it is going a step too far to play ‘god’ and that the animals went extinct for a reason. On the other side, people think it’s a great idea to reintroduce animals of times gone by as science and humanity could learn a lot from them. This article is going to run through four pros and four cons of bringing back extinct animals with the help of cloning and try to see whether it is the right or wrong thing to do.
List of Pros of Cloning Extinct Animals
1. Scientific Knowledge
By bringing back an extinct species, scientists and researchers could garner extraordinary information about evolution and the true genetic makeup of the animals involved. The animals involved could also open up research into medical conditions such as viruses and pathogens that they may have immunity to allowing vaccines and cures to be developed. When talking about evolution, animals that are seen as interlinking chains during the process could be made de-extinct so that any pre-evolution traits could be studied and identified giving science a better understanding of the process.
When an animal goes extinct those in the food chain above and below can become affected. This can be seen happening in oceans around the world due to mass overfishing causing the numbers of their natural predators to drop. Tuna and sea turtle numbers are plummeting meaning the jellyfish can thrive. Smaller fish such as anchovies and sardines consume the jellyfish eggs and larvae, but a huge reduction in their numbers is allowing many more jellyfish to mature and reproduce. Re-introducing certain species and releasing them back into their natural habitat could help level the playing field and restore balance to ecosystems, especially ones that have been disrupted by human behaviour.
3. Reversing Human Actions
It is a well-known fact that with the advent of humanity came the extinction of hundreds, if not thousands of animals. Through hunting, destruction of habitats and removal of natural food resources, humans have at times, purposely pushed an animal into extinction. By bringing back an animal we could, in theory, be giving it a second chance to thrive and undo some of the damage that we have previously caused.
They say that curiosity killed the cat, but cloning could bring it back. Humans are naturally inquisitive beings and sometimes we do things purely because we want to see or know how something truly was. Bringing back sabre-toothed tigers, mammoths, the dodo and even dinosaurs could be done purely because of our desire to see what they really looked like. Sure, we have Jurassic park, but how factually correct is is? Did dinosaurs really have green skin and sound like a rusty old door swinging open? These are things we can only ever truly know by seeing them in the flesh.
List of Cons of Cloning Extinct Animals
1. Animal Exploitation
It comes as no surprise that one of the greatest concerns of re-introducing an extinct species back into the modern world is that of animal cruelty, abuse and exploitation. While humans have provided many amazing advances in the world, many of these have relied on the exploitation and involvement of animals. Is it truly enough of a reason to bring back a species purely so it can be put through suffering and pain for our own benefits?
2. Health Risks
Extinct species have sometimes become extinct due to deadly retroviruses and pathogens. There is a risk that re-introducing a species could cause the spread of such viruses and pathogens and cause a pandemic that in effect could be the cause of our own future extinction. Sometimes, nature has a way of removing these types of retroviruses via extinction, so bringing them back could prove to be a big mistake.
Depending on how long ago they became extinct, certain animals would be alien and could quickly take over. With differences in climate, habitats, food resources and the evolution of other living species, the original roles they would have played as part of the eco-system may have changed. If an extinct animal is re-introduced to the wild it could very easily lead to the extinction of many organisms that currently walk this earth and completely disrupt the food chain.
For those who believe in god, they feel that man is taking things one step too far by trying to become a creationist and controller of all species in the world. For those who don’t believe in god, the feeling is that sometimes things happen for a reason and interfering with the natural selection process can cause more harm than good. Regardless of belief, on a moral level, it can be difficult. One the one hand we have the power to bring back animals we may have wiped out, but on the other, perhaps they went extinct because that was the end step of their evolution.
Regardless of where you stand on the ethics of de-extinction, there are clear positives and negatives that need o be weighed up before science allows the progression of cloning. Only time will tell whether it will become a reality or not.