Walking with dinosaurs? Archaeologist says its wrong to bring extinct animals back to life
2013 05 15

By Charlotte Meredith | Express


A world-renowned archaeologist has warned that people should be concerned about the issue of resurrecting extinct species.

TV presenter and professor Alice Roberts has argued people should "grapple with" the issue of bringing Ice Age animals back from the dead.

"We are, quite seriously, on the brink of being able to do this, so itís quite an important question for people to start grappling with," she told the Radio Times.


Japanese scientists have already extracted the bone marrow from woolly mammoth remains found in Siberia to look at the DNA with a view to resurrecting a mammoth, she said.

"It is within our grasp, which is such an extraordinary thing to think about."

The clinical anatomist and professor of public engagement in science at Birmingham University said: "Itís basically using the same technology as has already been used for cloning.

"Thereís something really questionable about bringing back a single mammoth.

"Mammoths are herd animals and their environment no longer exists, so what are you bringing that animal back for? Youíre bringing it back to live in a zoo? I think the ethics are very questionable.

"People have spoken about repopulating Siberia with mammoths in the sense that, like elephants, they are a keystone species that are really important to creating and maintaining a particular type of environment through the way they dig up the ground, and fertilise the land with their dung.

"Personally, I would prefer the emphasis to be on saving existing animals under threat of extinction rather than trying to resurrect their long-extinct cousins."

Scientists gathered to discuss the revival of creatures that havenít roamed the earth for thousands of years in March this year.

In scenes similar to Jurassic Park, scientists have learnt how to isolate DNA and proteins from fossils and preserved remains.

Hendrik Poinar, a molecular evolutionary geneticist and biological anthropologist at the Ancient DNA Centre at McMaster University in Ontario, is part of a team attempting to clone a wooly mammoth and generate a living specimen.

His team are experimenting with well-preserved samples of mammoth carcasses that had been entombed in permafrost, preserving the DNA.

However, Roberts emphasised: "Itís really important that scientists donít shut themselves away in their labs to work on these things - there are big ethical issues involved and itís a conversation everyone should be having."

[...]

Read the full article at: express.co.uk




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