Extinct Species Could Be Restored Thanks to New Technology

Woolly mammoth de-extinctionA team of researchers have mapped almost the entire genome sequence of two Siberian woolly mammoths, a step closer to the possibility of bringing the species back from extinction.

Evolutionary geneticist Hendrik Poinar, director of the Ancient DNA Center at McMaster University believes that the technology to reintroduce extinct species could only be few decades away.

“With a complete genome and this kind of data, we can now begin to understand what made a mammoth a mammoth—when compared to an elephant—and some of the underlying causes of their extinction which is an exceptionally difficult and complex puzzle to solve,” he says.

Mapping the genomes reveals the evolutionary history of the mammoth and showed that the population suffered and recovered from a significant setback roughly 250,000 to 300,000 years ago. However, say researchers, another severe decline occurred in the final days of the Ice Age, marking the end of the species…this time around.

The samples have been taken from two male specimens who lived over 40,000 years apart. One of the males lived in northern Siberia and lived nearly 45,000 years ago. The second specimens was found on Russia’s Wrangel Island. It was part of the mammoths last stand, living around 4,300 years ago. This timeline means that while the Egyptians were building their pyramids there were woolly mammoths wandering around off the Russian coast.

Of course, now the debate will move towards whether morally or ecologically de-extinction should be done. Since there are many species are on the verge of joining the mammoth in extinction and with habitat destruction occurring at an unprecedented rate the money towards this research could arguably be better spent preserving what we still have.


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