Should we clone the woolly mammoth?
By Jason Major
Japanese researchers plan to resurrect the long-extinct mammoth by using cloning technology to bring the ancient pachyderm back to life in around five years time.
See ABC Science News story
And the purpose of this is…?
I find this fascinating science and down the track the knowledge generated by perfecting this cloning technology may lead to useful medical treatments and a better understanding of human development, among other cool stuff. But ultimately, in my humble opinion I have to question why we are trying to clone a mammoth, or any other long-extinct creature.
The scientists’ rationale for this research (at least according to the ABC story) is to “examine its ecology and genes to study why the species became extinct and other factors.”
For the time and expense, I consider this a relatively unimportant bit of knowledge. Sure if money and scientific expertise was in abundance then great, but it ain’t.
Besides what are you going to do with the hairy beast once it is born? It will be a lab rat and a circus show. You can’t release it back to its natural habitat; there isn’t one – and there is likely to be less soon, if the ice keeps melting. Effectively the beast will still be extinct as it won’t exist in the wild. It will be a living genome stored in a lab or zoo pen. The only difference between this and other extinct animals is that this one will require food, water and someone to muck out its pen.
For what purpose are we doing this short of trying to find out why it went extinct? I think you would be better spending the money on helping prevent existing endangered species suffering the same fate.