Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A 5000 Year-old, Extinct Animal Walking the Earth...Again?

According to reports, scientists will try to bring back the woolly mammoth in 4-6 years. Previous attempts have failed, but researchers are now miles ahead of where they were because of the yearly advances in science. Apparently, tissue from a frozen mammoth will be used. As the story goes, nuclei of the frozen mammoth cells will be used to impregnate an African elephant, and then after the 600 day gestation period, a new born woolly mammoth would appear. The success rate is roughly 30%, so its not a done deal.

As exciting as it is, I'm very conflicted. One the one hand, I love science. I appreciate the accomplishments of Benjamin Banneker, Galileo Galilei, Sir Issac Newton, and many others, and I credit the work of late Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould for "igniting" my enthusiasm. Clearly, the possibility of seeing a woolly mammoth, a majestic icon of the last Ice Age, would be amazing.

On the other hand, I can see the concerns of Jeff Goldblum's Jurassic Park character, who was against resurrecting animals from a bygone era. Besides, would you put it in a zoo on display? Would you breed more, and if so, how many more? So many important questions that have yet to be worked out.

This is a story I'll be watching with great interest.

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