National Geographic News
A captive Tasmanian tiger in a 1930s photograph.

The Tasmanian tiger—known as a thylacine—is one of many exinct species at the center of the de-extinction debate.

Photograph from Popperfoto/Getty Images

Jamie Shreeve

National Geographic News

Published March 5, 2013

On May 6, 1930, a Tasmanian farmer named Wilfred Batty grabbed a rifle and shot a thylacine—commonly known as a Tasmanian tiger—that was causing a commotion in his henhouse. The bullet hit the animal in the shoulder. Twenty minutes later, it was dead. A photograph taken soon afterward shows Batty kneeling beside the stiffened carcass, wearing a big floppy hat and a young man's proud grin.

You can't begrudge him some satisfaction in killing a threat to his livestock. What Batty did not know—could not know—is that he'd just made the last documented kill of a wild thylacine, anywhere, ever. In six years, the wonderfully odd striped-back creature—the largest marsupial carnivore known—would be extinct in captivity as well.

The thylacine is one of 795 extinct species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List, which since 1963 has been tracking the planet's biodiversity. The animals and plants on the list are organized into categories of increasing degrees of urgency, from "near threatened" through "critically endangered," until you reach the last "extinct" group, whereupon the urgency abruptly plummets to zero. An endangered species is like a very sick person: It needs help, desperately. An extinct species is like a dead person: beyond help, beyond hope. (Endangered animal portraits: See pictures-and bleak numbers.)

Or at least it has been, until now. For the first time, our own species—the one that has done so much to condemn those other 795 to oblivion—may be poised to bring at least some of them back. (Interactive map: Get a close look at 20 endangered species in the U.S.)

The Question of De-extinction

The gathering awareness that we have arrived at this threshold prompted a group of scientists and conservationists to meet at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., last year to discuss the viability of the science and the maturity of the ethical argument surrounding what has come to be known as de-extinction. Next week an expanded group will reconvene at National Geographic headquarters in a public TEDx conference.

People were fantasizing about reviving extinct forms of life long before Hollywood embedded the idea into our collective consciousness with Jurassic Park. Can we really do it? And if we can, why should we?

The first question would seem to have a straightforward, if hardly simple, answer.  Scientific developments—principally advances in cloning technologies and new methods of not only reading DNA, but writing it—make it much easier to concoct a genetic approximation of an extinct species, so long as DNA can be retrieved from a preserved specimen. (Sorry, Jurassic Park fans, the dinosaurs lived too long ago for their DNA to survive until the present.)

Video: Recipe for Resurrection

When Is a Mammoth a Mammoth?

Where things get fuzzy from this "Can we do it?" perspective is in trying to pin down what it really means to revive a species. Is a genetically engineered passenger pigeon—the prime target of one high-tech de-extinction project—the same species as the bird that flocked by the billions in North America 150 years ago? Or is it a proxy passenger pigeon, alike in every respect, but not the real McCoy?

When does a mammoth born from an elephant qualify as the species Mammuthus primigenius? When an individual survives for more than a few minutes of life? When it grows up and is introduced to another of its kind, and they make a baby mammoth, the old-fashioned way? Or can that budding captive herd truly be considered de-extinct only when it is reintroduced to its native habitat? And just what "native habitat" are we talking about here, since mammoths haven't been around to define it for 10,000 years? (Pictures: The baby mammoth that unlocked clues to its species.)

If we can decide when a species has been revived—for argument's sake, let's say it's when we can produce a healthy individual with more or less the same genome as the original species—we still have the weightier question of whether we should be doing this in the first place.

 

 

mammoth picture

 

On the Revival of Species

Most arguments in favor of species revival fall into two basic camps: we should do it because we can do it. Why impede the progress of science, when the benefits that may accrue up the road are unknown? And we should do it because we have an obligation to do it, to right some of the enormous wrong we have done by driving these co-tenants of the Earth off the planet in the first place.

On the other side of the debate, some conservationists argue that we should not be bringing back extinct animals when 1) We don't yet have any clear notion of how to reintroduce them into natural ecosystems; and 2) There are plenty of living species that are critically endangered. Why waste resources trying to resurrect the dead when we can use them to save the sick?

De-extinction advocates have counterarguments for both those positions, as well as ripostes to the squishier criticism of species revival as a hubris-soaked attempt at "playing God." (National Geographic Daily News will publish a point-counterpoint on de-extinction from Stewart Brand, its most vocal advocate, and Duke University conservationist Stuart Pimm, a prominent critic, next week.)

Video: Should We Resurrect Extinct Species?

Do we really need a reason to revive a vanished species? In my own experience, whether fans of de-extinction begin their justification from a scientific rationale or a moral one, they usually end by saying something like "besides, it's just such a really cool idea." It's hard to put your finger on exactly why de-extinction is so inherently exciting a concept, irrespective of any tangible benefit it may—or may not—have.  Perhaps the excitement derives from the chance it affords to travel back in time and glimpse marvelous creatures from a world that no longer exists. Or maybe it's the thrill of cheating death, of reversing the ultimate irreversible.

Whatever the foundation for the excitement, I am willing to bet that when a young researcher poses for a photo for the first time standing beside a revived thylacine, he or she will be wearing an ear-to-ear grin that will put Wilfred Batty's to shame.

Where do you stand in the debate over species revival? Share your opinion in the comments.

Editor's note: National Geographic will host scientists and conservationists at the TEDxDeExtinction conference on March 15 at its Washington headquarters, spearheaded by Stewart Brand and Ryan Phelan of the group Revive and Restore. The event will be streamed live on NationalGeographic.com. National Geographic will be reporting on the conference and related debate in coming weeks, including in a cover story in our April issue.

130 comments
Zia Rehman
Zia Rehman

i need more about the extint mammoths....


Nicole Miller
Nicole Miller

The idea might be tempting but we need to think, will the animals survive with the new living conditions? Like global warming and loss of forest and so on. I think we first need to make the world a better place and then think about bringing the animals back. Plus, the animals could become victims of hunting, etc.

Tommy Melton
Tommy Melton

DNS I think it's an awesome idea, I don't think it would be "playing God" as it was put. I think it would be using the knowledge and technology science has afforded us to do something good. I am a religious person, not a die hard bible thumper, but I have faith in the religion I was raised in, but I see no reason why it would be a bad thing from either side of the debate. Weather or not it would act like the old species or not, ofcourse not, the conditions are different than they were when any extinct spices lived, even the Tasmanian tiger, but wouldn't it be cool to say that, "yes, we have caused some animals to go extinct, or maybe not helped them along, but we are trying to do something to fix that problem.". I think as long as the people actually doing the procedure don't get a since of Goddlyness, then it is ok. Who wouldn't want to see a herd of mammoth walking free in let's say northern Canada, or Russia, somewhere there is food, shelter and people to enjoy them. Maybe it would jumpstart mankinds love and passion for helping our fellow animals that call earth home.

Tommy Melton
Tommy Melton

DNS I think it's an awesome idea, I don't think it would be "playing God" as it was put. I think it would be using the knowledge and technology science has afforded us to do something good. I am a religious person, not a die hard bible thumper, but I have faith in the religion I was raised in, but I see no reason why it would be a bad thing from either side of the debate. Weather or not it would act like the old species or not, ofcourse not, the conditions are different than they were when any extinct spices lived, even the Tasmanian tiger, but wouldn't it be cool to say that, "yes, we have caused some animals to go extinct, or maybe not helped them along, but we are trying to do something to fix that problem.". I think as long as the people actually doing the procedure don't get a since of Goddlyness, then it is ok. Who wouldn't want to see a herd of mammoth walking free in let's say northern Canada, or Russia, somewhere there is food, shelter and people to enjoy them. Maybe it would jumpstart mankinds love and passion for helping our fellow animals that call earth home.

Jerry Funk
Jerry Funk

I like the idea of bringing back extinct species, but  I really think that before we start the process of de-extinction of other species, we should focus on the extinction of weapons of mass destruction.  Otherwise, the majority of all the species of our planet may someday become extinct, including our species. 

PA Azeez
PA Azeez

I don't think it is worthy idea to bring back those extinct species, gone in the bygone past, if especially the aim is releasing them outdoors to the nature; there are several reasons, such as we actually  know only little about their ecological / resource requirements, about the impact of those species on other species / habitats/ ecosystems.  If we recreate them it would be only as live trophies and of course scientific curiosity and development of our knowledge base and to confine them to custom made micro-ecosystems.

In fact we need to spend our energy and resources much more into preventing further extinction and perhaps bringing back species that has gone extinct in the last few centuries 

Hallie Seiwell
Hallie Seiwell

While I'm intrigued by the idea of bringing back extinct animals, some of the potential problems with this type of experimentation are explored beautifully in the Thursday Next novels by Jasper Fforde.  They're fictional and set in an alternate universe in 1985 in which genetic cloning is commonplace, and the ethical and moral, as well as practical, dilemmas that arise from it in within that world may give us a good idea of the real-world implications in our own.

Lina Hassen
Lina Hassen

Honestly, there are some animals that do deserve to be brought back, if we killed them off the earth, the least we can do is put them back on it

Paola BreadWater
Paola BreadWater

I'm not comfortable with the idea of treating animals like this. This doesn't do any favors to the individuals who died and continue to die needlessly, regardless of their species, because of humans. It's merely humans doing crossword puzzles when they could be solving an actual, you know, problem.

Peter Zagar
Peter Zagar

Without going into specific details as to why so many creatures have become extinct, of one thing we can be sure of and that is, man played a key role in the extinction of these creatures with the exception of the dinosaurs. I.E., the Tasmanian Tiger, Java  tiger, passenger pigeon, dodo bird, the Quagga, golden toad,  Pyrenean ibex, Baiji dolphin, bubal hartebeest, Steller’s sea cow, great auk and I am sure countless other flora and fauna species as well.

When it comes to profit and personal gain, we as, supposedly, intelligent humans, have little or no regards for other species, including the human species. We continue to burn, drill, pollute, cut, and exploit out world at all expenses. Despite the efforts of thousands of people and organizations to educate mankind as to the importance of protecting our planet and its resources, we refuse to accept responsibility in the name of progress and monetary gain. The evidence surrounds us.

Bringing back to light some species which we humans have caused their extinction, in my opinion, is good idea.  Gaining experience in this field is important, not only from an, already extinct species, point of view but also from future species extinction, point of view.  What an amazing scientific and medical breakthrough it would be to repair some of the damage we have done and once again see creatures brought back from extinction. 

Josh Horowitz
Josh Horowitz

I agree with the idea of finding ways to reintroduce previously extinct animals, the ideas about animals that made the tundras more lively is a prime example where it could be useful. The issue I see though is one that was brought up, the balance of an ecosystem is very delicate and these new species could do more damage than good in their new homes. They are major research breakthroughs that can come from this, like the reintroduction of old plants that may hold major medical benefits. But any species revived should be monitored in controlled habitats to make sure they do not cause a variety of issues. The idea that my grandkids could go to the zoo and see animals such as the mammoth and the do do is an incredible idea and it shows our potential through scientific advancement.

Christopher Bryant
Christopher Bryant

Knowing we can do bring back these species is enough.  Just because we can doesn't mean we should.  These species died out because they could not evolve to survive the age of man (us) like the cow or the dog.  A species that can't keep up must give way and die off so new ones can come in behind. We are at a unique point where we realize these species are gone and we feel responsible for them but this has been happening since life began.  We should focus on controling our overpopulation  so we can stop depleting all of our resources.

charlie rodriguez
charlie rodriguez

They should worry about the species they are killing now, like in the oceans where destroying eco systems daily, killing off the species one by one. All territorial wild life slowly and systematically made extinct by deforestation; and our consumption that produces so much waste. Its inevitable, we are contaminating our own environment and playing god with all other creatures on earth. Just to think they would just use them for hunting. Mankind's insatiable quest to dominate and control other species and everything. It's pure evil and I guess in a sense we are all a part of that evil. As humanity keeps consuming the life out of this fragile planet. someday everyone will wonder where did they go wrong. Greed, monetary gain land take overs, it's all common . but just add religion into the mix and we become god like made in the image of god or are we? interesting the same species who destroys everything wants to rebuild it and for what. like if generations down the line wont completely deface this world it's going to happen either by our own hands or some galactic  catastrophe. enjoy your days there already numbered...

Princess Merry isabelle Bagay
Princess Merry isabelle Bagay

putting them to extinction then bringing them back to life, then put them to extinction again? Oh please!! :/

mon mon
mon mon

I would be extremely excited to be able to see a live mammoth or any other animal that has been extinct for thousands or even hundreds of years, but we cannot even keep our living animals from becoming extinct. I can already see the news about mammoth bone smuggling or mammoth fur being used for the newest name brand goods...Let's face it, we need to first learn to coexist with the animals of our times and then maybe once we can do that we could think about de-extinction.

Drew Bernadine Carritero
Drew Bernadine Carritero

De-extinction.....? If we bring these extinct species back or "clone" them by their DNA , what would happen and change? And not all of the species that got extinct aren't really 100% our fault. Climate change is one too , that affected those animals/species.  There might be some thylacines or other animals that we think that are already "extinct" out there in the wild. But just maybe. Our own home planet Earth is already more than 4 billion years old! It has gone many changes by climate and weather and everything. Those changes affected the species that lived in those years , they died , some evolved , some stayed and waited for their time to come.  So it's not really 100% our fault why they've gone extinct.

Jordana Quezada
Jordana Quezada

When this topic comes up, I'm always reminded of the day I found out that the Western Black Rhino was declared extinct in 2011. If we could bring them back, what would change? Wouldn't there just be more ppl poaching them for their horns to sell in the black market? I feel like more people would take the poaching of animals even less seriously...

Marie T.
Marie T.

In the case of the thylacine I think they should bring it back because it's extinction is 100% our fault, it was a very unique animal and that makes it all the more sad to me but most importantly I believe Australia NEEDS it back as they have a huge problem with invasive pests such as rabbits, feral cats, foxes to name but a few the thylacine would have been the perfect predator to take care of them... 

A big part of me still hopes that maybe there are a few thylacines still out there and if there are and they clone them... that's fine, is it really an issue? It's more like the captive breeding program.
Thylacine yes now... other species however I think that the habitat and environment needs (we need )to change first because they would be unsustainable.
As for mammoth and the like I think I need to wait and see what people have to say about that....

However if there is ever a Jurassic Park I would probably be the first one to get a ticket... if I could afford it.

Dan Kyle
Dan Kyle

the word god needs to become extinct

Can Fowler
Can Fowler

I am very much enjoying this debate HOWEVER...

Can people please refrain from:-

"Humans are bad, we killed EVERY extinct animal EVER"

"What about the poor old tiger, lets spend the money there"

Humans DID NOT kill every extinct animal, The most common reason for an animal extinction is... wait for it... Climate change! 

4x4's were not around 'polluting the OZone layer' when the Woolly Mammouth was around, climate change however was in full force! Our earth was seeing the last of the Ice age. Some might even say they still exist... African Elephants no longer need their furr... The ice has melted!

I realise that with this article we are focusing on The tasmanian tiger, but this debate is for 'Species Revival', not one animal.

Our earth has seen many ages and is 4 BILLION years old, many many many species in this time have evolved, failed to evolve and become extinct, been eraticated by aminals and/or humans and all of this has shaped the earth. This will continue.

Yes I agree that humans are responsble for the majority nowadays. 

Yes I agree that we should spend time and money saving our endangered species.

Thats not what this is about though, this is about what we can learn from our past, animal behaviour, evolution and perhaps filling holes in the food chain?

We are far past stopping the barbaric ways of third world countries who see the ivory trade, for example, as a way for them to feed their families... simliar to that of the western world selling leather shoes, bags etc. 

It wont stop anytime soon, nor will the killing of cows for Prada handbags, cows however have evolved to live, humans also breed them for this purpose, Shall we start another debate or get back to the original point???

Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift

What if in doing so you also resurrect bacteria and viruses that may adversely (to put it mildly) currently living organisms, including humans? How probable is that? 

ian a.
ian a.

this is truly a Horrible idea. why would we want to change nature everything in the world that is extinct is extinct for a reason. 99% of all of the mamels that ever walked the earth are extinct . why because they couldn't adopt. so why do we want to change nature. Playing god is a sin. why do we want to do that.

Riccardo Vanon
Riccardo Vanon

I personally think it is a great idea, but obviously one that should be pursued with extreme caution. 

The human race has caused so much pain and destruction to animals (and Nature) in general, that I think it would be a good idea to try to right some of the wrongs we've done. Of course, as it has already been said in the comments, we can't start de-extincting animals that last stood on the planet thousands of years ago, as it would be very complicated. But I'm sure that the idea is to go about the problem gradually, as any true and good scientist would. 

Some of the comments have dealt with the issue of the life conditions these de-extinct animals would have to endure, if they would have to live in captivity. I think the idea would be initially hold them in captivity so that their behaviour can be monitored and then trying to re-introduce them into their own habitat once it has been assessed that they are not a risk to the animals with which they would have to coexist. 

Science is going into that direction anyway, and I'm sure other critical and exciting discoveries would arise from breakthroughs in this field. Being a scientist myself, I think that science shouldn't be stopped (unless for very good reasons -- "playing God" is definitely not one of them.).

Lastly, knowing the lack of ethics of many people spread on the planet, this may well be done illegally sooner or later, so we may as well do it properly, monitoring it every step of the way so to ensure that there are no repercussions on the other animals (including ourselves), rather than letting some mad scientist do it without caring about these issues.

Stacia Sasso
Stacia Sasso

While I don't believe in a creator, I do believe in an inner spirit. I believe this spirit is connected to the spirit in all living things around us. I wonder, if man manufactures DNA, or even replicates it, will this spirit be replicated as well? Will the creatures be more like fancy robots walking around without a soul, per se? When man feels they have the right, and necessity, to "create" things they think they have a firm understanding of without questioning possible repercussions, it makes me shudder. The thinking that correcting our past tragedies is wonderful. However, the world has adapted without these creatures, for some time now. Who's to say how they would interfere with the system currently in place. On the other side of the coin, what if by reanimating these extinct creatures, man inadvertently "creates" some type of horrific terminal disease that has the ability to replicate its self through multiple strains of DNA and species. Thus, possibly wiping out all living creatures on this planet. Yes, this is my active sci-fy brain at work, and an extreme outcome. However, I do believe that if man plunges ahead blindly into a world they do not fully understand, there is the absolute possibility of something they did not foresee going terribly awry. Once this is a reality, it can not be undone. Then where will the "creating" stop? Will man be subject next? Will the "ideal" person be created with bits and pieces of prime DNA? Proceed with caution and certainty.

Leanne Atley
Leanne Atley

We've already played God in killing these animals off in the first place, although I do agree that ensuring the animal's welfare by placing them in a secure habitat wherein they can thrive is critical. I don't, for example, believe we should start with resuscitating woolly mammoths, as much as I absolutely adore mammoths. Starting with creatures that have only recently become extinct and have a better chance of adapting to the current climate/habitat (such as passenger pidgeons and thylacines) would be a better option until we have a CLEAR idea of how those animals that have been extinct for far longer would fit into the current ecosystem. In addition, I agree that caring for the 'sick' animals would be a better use of our resources, but in spite of that I do believe it would be a huge step for science to see if bringing an animal back to life using only preserved strands of DNA is possible.

Katie B.
Katie B.

When I started reading this article, I got so excited by the prospect I instantly wanted to tell everyone I know about it and champion it as a potentially huge step forward in science. 

BUT, now that I think about it, how would these animals live? In captivity? Is that the life we would want for something after bringing it back from extinction: a highly-controlled life of tests and boring surroundings - void of the freedom and danger of the wild? But if we re-introduce these animals to the wild, where would they fit in on the food chain? I can't see a mammoth fitting in that well in Canada, where it might strip vegetation and unknowingly become a danger to small communities. Predators might choose endangered prey, or become the kind of invasive species Australia has nightmares about.

I would highly applaud the de-extinction and reintroduction of animals that played a major role in their ecosystem, whose reintroduction might stabilize or enrich the current situation. As an atheist, I don't really like the accusation that scientists are "playing God", as I have already seen expressed here. I think there is a lot to be gained from studying this process, and I like the idea of righting the horrible wrongs we have perpetrated against the planet. We have already "played God" and harmed our planet more than anyone would have thought possible hundreds of years ago. Helping out currently endangered species is a whole other can of worms, but I believe both endeavors can work together to maintain, protect, and maybe enrich our planet.

Can Fowler
Can Fowler

A common theme running here, as you get with every debate, is that people have focused on one point (GOD) and then agreed with the majority on another point 'sorting out endangered species first'?

I think we all need to understand that the scientists, who are attempting to save endangered species, will not necessarily be the same team who are looking into species revival.

I think this is a fantastic opportunity to learn about our past and also evolution. Many species of animal are now extinct, not by the hand of man, but by the way our planet is changing and evolving.

Being able to bring back species, see how they adapt and then ultimately learn from them, would help us further understand our planet and what evolution has written for us!

I love this idea!!!

Don’t reply to this post if you disagree with my non-religious beliefs, I will not get involved with religious debates. I’m not religious, the end.

Gordon MacLennan
Gordon MacLennan

Should we not think of the wildlife we are threatening that is still alive first?

It's a case of scientists saying look how clever we are, while people, wildlife and indeed the planet are under threat mostly from our selfish ,arrogant actions.

I do believe science has it's place ,but let's sort out the living first.

Shawn Treadway
Shawn Treadway

We've actually already succesfully done this. A recently extinct species of cow was brought back using normal cows to grow and birth them. It seemed to be a pretty sucessful experiment. We already screw around with genetic modification anyways.

Daniel McGuire
Daniel McGuire

Are they really extinct if their genetic information is still intact?  That information is just waiting for the day it can reanimate a body. It will happen whether it should or not! Zombie Precambrian protozoa ftw! Unintended consequences to follow.

Joseph Kristian Marikit
Joseph Kristian Marikit

No! My stand on this is a no. We already have done way too much and let us not add up to it. I've got 3 reasons that were already mentioned in the article, but I'll enumerate it starting from the third to the first which is my top reason. 3.) No matter how people attempt to revive an extinct animal, it will still be another animal. The same appearance, same sounds made, same habitat or the same food eaten, the revived animal will still be different. The very fact that the animal is revived through human methods is enough for the difference. 2.) Let us not stress out our effort on trying to revive what has already been lost but instead, let us focus on trying to avoid the same mistake. The resources to be used, money to be spent and the time, why won't we just use it to exert more effort in protecting the animals and plants including the environment, thus our planet. And for my top reason, 1.) We are NOT God. We can't create. We are only caretakers that should be making sure that we do our part to keep God's creation as is. Not to destroy or change it. Let us not play as if we created everything. We are existences made by the Creator along with the rest of His creations.

This is just my stand and opinion about the article. Thank you.

Ellis Giaz
Ellis Giaz

I agree to revive extinct, species but only species that have been extinct by humans and after the time of Christ. Meaning not dinosaurs not animals extinct by prehistoric man (in the ice age), but animals like the Steller sea cow, Carribean monk seal, giant auk etc. Just humans must try to revive nature with a natural way, not play God.

Alex Baum
Alex Baum

Very cool stuff.  What I would say is instead of using this technology to bring extinct animals back, can we use it in some way to increase the gene pool in animals that are on the brink of extinction?  As for the playing God argument, that is a slippery slope no matter how one looks at it.  When we take more than we need, when we kill people in wars and unnecessary famine, when we errantly wipe species and whole ecosystems of the Earth almost entirely out of human greed and egocentric self preservation are we not already playing God?  Perhaps now is the time to at least do something good with it.  As I see it, we as humans have a debt we owe to the planet and all its other life forms.

Rea K.
Rea K.

No you shouldn't. You shouldn't play with nature and you definitely shouldn't play GOD, like many people said it here. You SHOULD take care of what's left and make it NOT go extinct! We don't doubt that you can, but you SHOULD NOT! Use the money to help those animals (and people) whose help is NEEDED! THAT is IMPORTANT! And that is with the big ! (!!!!!!!!!)

Josh Horowitz
Josh Horowitz

@charlie rodriguez You make a lot of good points, the idea researchers are putting tons of money into de-extinction to revive animals that none of us have even been alive to see rather than saving animals and habitats that are essential to the ecosystem today.  The techniques that they are proposing though can be used to help the populations in danger today, once the endangered species today are saved then they can focus on bringing back the extinct species. 

Josh Horowitz
Josh Horowitz

@Drew Bernadine Carritero This is true, some species go extinct for a reason, the Darwinian idea of survival of the fittest is a great example. The species that are no longer around could not adapt to the changing of their habitats, the wooly mammoth being an example of this, as the Ice age ended the mammoth did not adapt to a new climate so they went extinct. 

Ben Fairclough
Ben Fairclough

@Stacia Sasso I hate to break it to ya, hun, but humans have been blindly plunging into things they don't fully understand for thousands of years, hence ALL the problems we face in the world today. This particular instance only furthers that. I almost would like to see how it turned out though, if they really would be soulless, because I, too, had that same question, and being human, I can't help but be curious.

Mike Brightbill
Mike Brightbill

@Katie B.   I like your thoughts! To kind of piggy back on your ideas; the instincts of each species should be considered. Also if these young creations have no parents to follow, who will teach them how to live the same life of their own species. I have to think that a wild animal is instinct plus knowledge gained from the parents, not just DNA!

Ben Fairclough
Ben Fairclough

@Can Fowler No, it wouldn't be the same scientists working on this, but they would certainly be getting a WHOOOLLEE lot of money. Money which could instead go to conservation efforts, a very real problem we face now. I'd like to see a mammoth or thylacine in person as much as the next guy, but I'd also much rather my grandchildren not be reading a similar article fifty years from now about whether or not we should de-exctinct humpback whales or tigers. It's not about "playing God" it's about properly delegating resources to deal with real problems instead of potentially creating new ones, something in which people are severely deficient today.

Shawn Treadway
Shawn Treadway

But on the other hand, if we are able to re-stabilize our environment and bring many (if not all) of the animals off of the extinction list (which may never happen, considering human nature) wouldn't it be our responsibility to bring back the species that we had a hand in destroying in the first place? Regardless of whether you believe in god or not, WE killed most of them, or at least had a large hand in doing so. Also, when a species goes extinct, thier prey tends to flourish, sometimes out of control, it would be of benifit in many cases to reintroduce predator, and even prey in some cases, back into the wild to futher stabilize the environment back to the way it used to be. That's just my opinion. And being an atheist myself, the playing "god" angle doesn't really hold any bearing for me.

Heather McMillan
Heather McMillan

@Alex Baum Why not do both? Work on the endangered animals first, before they are gone, then bring back the ones we as humans killed off?


Can Fowler
Can Fowler

Budgets are assigned to different departments.

I very much doubt any of the budgets assigned to our wildlife, would be available to humans!

This is about what we would gain by bringing back animals, who once graced the earth.

Its not just the cuddly panda, funny monkeys, sexy tigers and cod that are soon to be extinct!!! We lose AND FIND, species of animal and plant every day! Our planet is changing, not necessarily by our hand, but by the change in the solar system!

Mars is believed to have once had life, did we kill off all these species too?

Can Fowler
Can Fowler

@Ben Fairclough @Can Fowler  

Why are you attempting to debate this?

Ive already said that they will be different departments? The question wasnt 'Where would you prefer to see money spent?'  

And why are you telling me its not about 'Playing god'... I never sad it was.

Youre simply jumping on the band wagon and not reading peoples opinions properly!

R. Ottinger
R. Ottinger

@Shawn Treadway

Yes we killed them and yes that was a horrible, horrible mistake, but I think reintroducing them would most likely create more problems than it solved. If the species in question died out in the recent past (say a few years ago) I could see the possible benefits of reviving them, I might even agree with it, but I can not agree with reviving the older species. The world has moved on Mr. Treadway, we've adapted to life without them and it would do more harm than good to bring them back.

Joseph Kristian Marikit
Joseph Kristian Marikit

@Shawn Treadway You have a point considering that humans are usually the ones responsible for the extinction of those animals. It's the price we have to pay and let us be responsible of our actions without crossing the line. We have limits of the things we do. We can solve problems as long as we all help to stop bad things from happening. It's not necessary to do such things whether he or she is a believer of God or not because in the first place, it's already beyond of what we are really capable of. By the way, thank you for your opinion.

R. Ottinger
R. Ottinger

@Can Fowler @R. Ottinger

Please forgive me if I happened to offend you, that post was my opinion, not an attempt to start an argument.

Can Fowler
Can Fowler

@R. Ottinger  

Mr Ottinger... As we are now being extremely formal in an attempt to undermine the other from the onset.

My point... Was that it is a good idea for the above mentioned reasons.

My other point was that this is not a question of where we would prefer the money to be spent.

In my humble opinion, you are simply attempting to start an argument, which to be honest, I have no interest in.

Kindest regards.

R. Ottinger
R. Ottinger

@Can Fowler @Ben Fairclough @Can Fowler

Mr. Fowler, 1st of all, if you are not prepared to debate your point with the people who disagree with your opinion, you should not have posted your opinions in the first place.  2nd, that sort of is what the question was.  3rd, in my humble opinion Mr. Fairclough read your post pretty well, and made a great point.

De-Extinction in the News



On Friday, March 15, at our Washington, D.C., headquarters, National Geographic hosted TEDxDeExtinction, a daylong conference on species-revival science and ethics convened by Revive & Restore. The talks are over, but the coverage and conversation continue, in our new cover story on de-extinction, at National Geographic News, on TV—and on Twitter:




More in National Geographic


See exclusive photos and in-depth reporting on de-extinction in April's National Geographic—available as a digital edition March 15 and on print newsstands later this month.

 

National Geographic Channel