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The art of understatement is not dead

A front page story in today's New York Times describes how scientists could bring back woolly mammoths for as little as $10 million:

If the genome of an extinct species can be reconstructed, biologists can work out the exact DNA differences with the genome of its nearest living relative. There are talks on how to modify the DNA in an elephant’s egg so that after each round of changes it would progressively resemble the DNA in a mammoth egg. The final-stage egg could then be brought to term in an elephant mother, and mammoths might once again roam the Siberian steppes.

The article further notes that it's not just mammoths that might be resurrected this way. In theory, the process could work for any extinct animal "from which one can obtain hair, horn, hooves, fur or feathers, and which went extinct within the last 60,000 years, the effective age limit for DNA" -- including our evolutionary cousins. Emphasis added:

The same would be technically possible with Neanderthals, whose full genome is expected to be recovered shortly, but there would be several ethical issues in modifying modern human DNA to that of another human species.

Gee, ya think?


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 20th, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC)
This post brings to mind several questions, not all so heavily freighted but nevertheless worth at least my own consideration:

Mammoths were eliminated as a result of evolution. Is there a niche for them in today's ecology? Sure, there's an ethical question behind resurrecting Neanderthal given our relationship to them, but what about other creatures as well? Do they not deserve equal consideration?

And what about bringing back creatures that we exterminated? Do we have an obligation, given our part in their destruction, to resurrect them? I, for one, would love to see a real, live dodo.

On the other hand, there's a big piece of me that thinks we should lay off the resurrection game until we address the impending extinction of creatures like the polar bear and the tiger.

That's about as deep as I get this early in the day.
Nov. 20th, 2008 05:50 pm (UTC)
Didn't someone write a book about this?
Nov. 20th, 2008 06:06 pm (UTC)
Ethics. Shmethics. I want to see some Vulcans.

besides in regards to neanderthals, we slaughtered them. We can ressurrect them.
Nov. 20th, 2008 09:12 pm (UTC)
So THIS is how they'll bring back the Republican Party.
Nov. 20th, 2008 10:08 pm (UTC)
Hell, I'm just pleased to see the topic treated as a serious NYT news piece. That such DNA resurrections are now being discussed as ethical, not technical, problems is a mile-marker for a new road that this life-long sf reader finds very, very appealing and promising.
Nov. 21st, 2008 01:47 am (UTC)
How very Thursday Next.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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