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Cloning Another Extinct Species 175

Tekmage sent us a wired article about scientists cloning cloning an extinct tiger. We mentioned a similiar case involving a bird awhile back, but its getting more common. I knew that triceretops DNA I've been keeping in my fridge all summer would come in handy. It'll be on E-Bay next week.
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Cloning Another Extinct Species

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  • Just a list of a couple of films that I have seen that include something to do with cloning or DNA problems that give ya some ethical/scientific thoughts about cloning and 'messing with life'.

    "Species" and "Species II".
    "The Thing".
    "Jurassic Park" + "The Lost World".

    Anyone know any decent sci-fi books or other films... feel free to add em on...

  • But this species did exist 133 years ago... It isn't like the world changes so drastically in 133 that the animal wouldn't survive...

    The one question I have to ask is why? Why do we need to bring this animal back into existance when they describe it as "an alley dog". Why not bring back some of the supposed beautiful creatures of the past?
  • So, let me asked this: If a bird like the Dodo was hunted to extiction by ANY other animal, would we consider it to be natural selection? I mean, obviously the Dodo was incapable of defending itself againt human hunters, but just how is that different than defending itself against another predator like an alligator or something? Did the Dodo die out because we were *unfair* in hunting it so much, or did it die out because it was just a really dumb bird? I'm serious - maybe it was just time for the Dodo to check out. If not from us, than from something else.

  • "And this whole research area is where you should be looking if you really want to save species."

    Great, so we have lots of formerly dead species and can only keep them in Zoos because all the habitat has been paved over. Give that man a giant spatuala for the most self-serving scientist of the year award.

    I don't know about that, cloning dead species might make it possible for scientists to help live ones. Take, for example, the cheetah. The cheetah was hunted almost to extinction and the few that survive have very little genetic diversity.

    Today scientists have a database of cheetah lineage that is consulted before they are bred to prevent excess inbreeding. Another thing that might help increase their genetic diversity is to clone cheetahs from old trophies. They were heavily hunted, so these trophies shouldn't be too uncommon.
  • I know some scientist from Japan are trying to get soome Woolly Mammoth DNA to bring back those guys. But wouldn't cloning the endanged species such as Pandas be a better idea.
  • I saw this and was thinking, what if we get so good at cloning extinct animals from DNA that we stop caring so much about the animals already endangered because we know that we'll be able to revive them from DNA once they're gone?
  • A major question in conservation biology is the minimum size a population can reach and still maintain genetic variablity. As the population size falls, genetic variability is lost. This lack of variation means that the population will be less likley to adapt to future changes, and that by random chance, bad copies of a few genes will be very prevelant in the population. This doesn't bode well for the survival of this population.

    There is lots of dissagreement about what this number is, but 50 seems to be a reasonable minimum number of organisms (it might be much higher- more like 500.) There are only 6 animals preserved around the world: an order of magnitude less than what seems to be needed. Even if we could bring back a stock of these animals, would all our efforts be in vain?

  • I love it when the AC's go out trolling. Sometimes this is the best laugh I get in a day, but today I found some silly ASSERT's in M$ code that really take the cake. (CString.Mid(CString.GetLength()+1)... what fun)

    As much a fan I am of the United States (gotta love those wacky politicians) and have faith in its scientists (one country came up with both Agent Orange and asbestos, amazing!), sometimes I question the zeal with which they explore certain life sciences.

    Now I admit, I don't have a degree in a life science. My Biological-Anthropology degree is considered a social science by many. In fact, most of my evolutionary studies have been limited primates. Guess I really shouldn't talk about evolution as a whole. What do I know about fish.

    And as far as Star Trek is goes, yes I have watched too many episodes. I've seen too many episodes of Designing Women too (about 3), but I'm not sure what relevence either has with this thread.

    I'm not sure where you got the quote "cloning will destroy the human race". I must have posted that in a past life. Although I must admit that somewhere in the back of my mind I've imagined what might happen some day in the future if some scientist can't figure out why we allowed zebra muscles to be wiped out (note: they haven't been yet, but we're trying) and clones some back into existance. Heh-heh, hope they don't like the sewer system too much.
  • Is anyone else reminded of the sci-fi story where all flora and fauna is reduced to gene-banks? (Foundation, by Asimov, perhaps?)

    The concept was that "someday" when there was enough food for people, those animals and plants that didn't have any other "purpose" would be restored. In the meantime, the whole of the planet (and all subsequently discovered planets) was turned into a massive city with living space and hydroponics.

    Maybe this isn't in our future, but doesn't it get easier to drive a species to extinction if we can always bring them back "someday"?
  • Who is able to say what is/is-not a "horrible, stupid, short-sighted mistake with horrible repurcussions"? There is no real absolute ethic or moral standard to apply here (is there ever?). One man's geese is another man's gander, etc etc. The fact is that we are a part of nature. These animals were driven to extinction simply because they were competing with the local humans for resources (livestock), and the humans were simply more able. Survival of the fittest. Mean? Yup. The past is the past. Attempting to right past wrongs sets a precipitous precedent... When do we return Neanderthals (or one of the other thousands upon thousands of extinct species) to the face of the planet? We surely aided their extinction by out-competing them for resources! We should persue this line of research - but not because we can right past wrongs - because we can, and will learn much from the efforts.
  • ...was from a SF short story I read years ago (and I can't remember squat about the story, but this one bit really stuck in my mind). They took the sperm from one of the frozen mammoths (or are they mastodons?) in Siberia and impregnated a couple of elephants. (This assumes they're close enough to cross-breed, of course.) Then they were cross-breeding the offspring with the most mammoth-like characteristics in order to "purify" the genetic material. Sure, not as "cool" as cloning, but I thought it was an interesting thought.
  • Well yes, that's true - they would not necessarily be anything like their originaly copies, psychologically. However, there is no hard scientific evidence to show us whether personality is something you are born with or aquire through experience. Most research tends to support the theory that it is a combination of both. So, if that were the case, a clone of Hitler might have some of his traits, but not necessarily all of them, based on its own life experiences.
  • Of course, there will be issues regarding this. Many people have seen the movies based on it, and many can see the problems with it. But it's not a T-Rex or an alien species. It's an animal that was put to extinction by mankinds own selfish stupidity. Thylacine has interacted with mankind before, it should have no problem adjust to a simple 133 years of change (1866-1999).
    Why not use the technology (that probably killed some of these animals) to bring them back? It's understandable we should let natural extinction alone (Dinosaurs, mammoths, etc) but why not try to right our wrongs?
  • I don't think we have the technology to fully process the information found in DNA and simulate what it would create. Besides, you couldn't clone an animal like the T-Rex from just his DNA, could you? I was under the impression that you would need some sort of host-mother, like was used in Dolly? So, on those lines, could someone describe how a cloned Dodo bird would be "born" ?

  • I saw on cable awhile back a grainy black and white film of the last living tasmanian tiger, just walking back in forth in its cage.

    Had to be one of the most depressing things I ever saw.

    I can't imagine anyone saying that it is not worth bringing this animal back after watching this video.
  • Bah! Humans are a sum total of their genetic makeup and their environment. To REALLY re-make someone, you'd have to replicate all the outside factors that acted on them after they were born.

    Good luck. :P

  • This is old tech now. It's been done with Quaggas (no, not the beasts from rogue that start appearing after the 6th level or so and killing you, I mean the strange mix-of-horse-and-zebra things that used to live in S. Africa.) They now have a breeding population of about 60 (IIRC) and with selective breeding they're getting more Quagga-like every generation. They reckon purestrain Quaggas are maybe 5 years away (also IIRC).
  • Well - yeah, I guess you could claim it's natural. Good or not is debatable - but it always is, since what could be classified as good is relativistic (thus are morals and ethics).

    If we are capable of destroying ourselves (and we now are), and we do, did we deserve it? I think you could conclude (if conclusions are possible from beyond the grave) that we were incapable of handling our environment as well as we thought, and - frankly - natural selection rightly prevails again.

    Would it then be the responsibility of the apes that then ruled the world to return us to non-extinct status when they possesed the technology to do so? :)

    My brain hurts.

  • This is going to be moderated down as flamebait, and I don't care.

    There is unnatural extinction. it's called deforestation. try that perspective. Why? read the fine-print...

    Huh? Let's try this line of thinking, wonder boy:

    1. Human beings evolved naturally on this planet.

    2. Therefore, human beings are part of nature.

    If people cut down forests, it's no different from deer eating every plant in sight and leaving an area barren of vegetation (and killing off other animals thar are dependant on those selfsame plants). If this happens, the deer eventually starve, and there are fewer deer. If humanity destroys too many resources short-sightedly, then we'll face a similar fate. But it's perfectly natural.

    In fact, how can ANYTHING that people do not be part of "the natural order?" Because we are sentient? Bah. Monkeys are sentient. Dolphins probably are. Are those cute (and endangered) species also unnatural, oh he who knows nature?

    Are human actions "unnatural" because we build stuff? How about bever dams? Bee hives?

    because mankind are all a bunch of whining idiots. Humans are not the dominant species on this planet. Does your so-called "intelligence" make you feel you're dominant? Sorry buddy, you are inferior (just as I am).

    It sounds to me like you hate yourself, and by extension, humanity. Since you find yourself an unworthy being, please stop wasting precious resources for those of us who like being humans and terminate your current existence. With any luck, the Hindus are right and you can be reincarnated as an animal. In your case, I'd suggest a dung beetle.


  • by Doctor Dark ( 87531 ) on Monday September 13, 1999 @12:32AM (#1686254) Homepage
    ...would be to re-create the dodo. It became extinct because we ate them all. They must have tasted great! Bring them back, I want to eat some.
  • Technology isn't evil. It's risky when it isn't mature.

    Look at the early stages of nuclear power. The gov't was blowin' up sh*t out west with people a few miles away watching - and receiving massive doses of radiation. Yeah, that sucked for those people, but what we learned about atomic power was great! Think of all the positive applications of nuclear power - naval power plants, spacecraft, traditional ground-based power, medical treatments, etc etc.

    If nobody is willing to take on the possible risks of testing out new technologies, no advancement is possible - and potential long term benefits of the mature technology will not be achieved.

    Besides, I'm positive that there are countless unforseen uses for this technology down the line - the sky is the limit, so to speak.

  • by BluBrick ( 1924 ) <> on Monday September 13, 1999 @12:33AM (#1686256) Homepage
    The Tasmanian "tiger" is actually a marsupial, not a feline of any sort. It's more closely related to the kangaroo than a cat.

    Still a major achievement if they can pull it off
  • by Anonymous Coward
    DNA is already "aged", and is no long the information required to create an individual from the normal starting point (ie, shortly after fertilization).
    The informations is still there actually. Just the non coding (i.e. not containing genes, and genes are the parts on the DNA strand that serve as a blue print for the production of a protein) edges of the DNA strand (called telomeres) get shorter with each cell division. The DNA in sperm cells is kept 'young' because the enzyme telomerase restores the telomeres.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Bah it would prolly taste like chicken anyways.
  • Points to you, anonymous sir. Yes, it is.

    Aristoi is a fine book, and contains a much better treatment of cyberspace, biological engineering and nanotechnology than many other science fiction novels.

    (There -- now the relevance to Slashdot and to this thread is re-established. ;)


  • will this stuff get up to the clone wars in many scifi books , and the first wave on tv. could we do this to hurt our selfve more. should there be laws on cloning. i think it is great that we are getting extinced speices back , but how is this any going to last , being clones of one another ,they are all susptibale to the same plages , and all. we will see i think

    im not the clone he is

  • Oooops, sorry. They never existed.

  • by kieran ( 20691 ) on Monday September 13, 1999 @12:40AM (#1686264)
    I don't see any mention in the article that they have infant/embryo DNA samples to clone from, however. I was under the impression that one of the lessons learnt from Dolly the Sheep and similar is that if you clone from adult DNA, you have problems caused by the fact the DNA is already "aged", and is no long the information required to create an individual from the normal starting point (ie, shortly after fertilization).

    But I do wish that the media would stop pushing the idea that a clone might be created with an intact set of memories, a complete person! That sort of information simply isn't stored in DNA.
  • While I generally have my reservations about cloning, I think this is (finally) a development/use of cloning that I can applaud without going into all sorts of moral contortions.

    Would it not be great if the we could use this technology to save the threatened species from extinction. It doesn't look like we (the human
    species) will stop destroying the planet we live on anytime soon. Maybe this would at least enable us to keep the (potentially very useful DNA) of endangered (or soon to be extinct) species around, for fun (zoos, etc) and (of course) profit. I'd much rather see a cloned tiger in a zoo than not to see one at all. Of course I'd much rather see them in the wild, but I really doubt that that's an option our kids will have in a few decades ...
  • Ya know that brings up an interesting concept.

    For all of the current endangered species......I'll use the blue whale and all the other whales as an example.

    Hunted nearly to extinction....finally bringing themselves back.

    Let's start small with cloning a good food supply for them....then work our way up.....get an egg or two from a female, perhaps a million or 3 sperm.....start a nice lil DNA bank...just in case we need it.

    I think we may also be missing the fact that....some plants need to be brought back or at least replenished before introducing masses of animals that could potentially strip resources bare.

    And if the cloning scientists want to repopulate our oceans with animal AND plant go for it.

  • What would be a far more noble persuit would be to first get our own species under control so that there might be *room* for some extict species and the ones that aren't (including us).

    Save the Humans: Send a box of condoms with instructions to the Pope.
  • The extinct species they are trying to bring back weren't wiped out by plagues. They were killed by human actions, whether that was killing them for food or taking away their habitat. These animals functioned quite well...

    the only possible problem I can foresee is the massive inbreeding, since only a few genetic samples are available... but that never seemed to be a problem when they restored the bison to Yellowstone National Park...they have herds of thousands upon thousands of bison there that all come back from the 70 they rounded up save the species.

    I hope they make it work.
  • by Shin Dig ( 27213 ) on Monday September 13, 1999 @12:43AM (#1686269) Homepage
    Cloning of extinct species seems like potentially a really dangerous idea. The reason most things go extinct is because their ecological niche is complete destroyed. This also means that their predators have gone away or adapted to eat something else. The cane toads [] in Australia are the classic example of putting a species into an ecosystem that really is not expected them. What a disaster that has been.
  • That we are not entirely sure that it is extinct. There are regular 'sightings' with at least some basis of evidence behind them - not the usual kooks ;) Tasmania, like most of Australia, is very sparsely populated... A very high percentage of people live on the coast. It is quite possible that the thylocine (Tasmanian Tiger) is still around somewhere...
  • Maybe this time she'll give fish a turn at ruling the planet.

    70% of the planet and a huge majority of it's livable space (3d, not just surface area) are underwater, so whose to say that they don't already. I was just reading a story the other day about dolphins off the coast of madagascar with nuclear strike capabilities.
  • You make many fine, serious points, which are important. But it was funny. Try not to let the danger the planet is in make you lose your sense of humour.
  • When the ranching concerns bring back a cloned species just to mass produce it for your local meat counter? When Tyson brings back the dodo and KFC has fried or rotisserie dodo? They're certainly not going to bring them back only for science..

  • It's sad to read all the hyped stories about cloning, including their sometimes catastrophic so-called forecasts. I'd like to see some more reflective discussions about the subject instead of the parrot-like announcements copied from non-authoritive sources; 'next they are cloning this and that etc...'. It looks like scientists are playing the role of priests 'explaining' scientific pseudo-truth, which a lot of people want to believe in. Fundamental problems are being discarded as technical hurdles, rrrrrright. Everybody making a living doing research will recognize this. Regarding the use of cloning to prevent species from becoming extinct: In my opinion the first thing responsible for extinction is loss of habitat (for example due to cultivation of land by humans). If one doesn't tackle that, you are only working on the symptoms. Second, for a specie to survive it needs a rich and diverse gene pool. Simply growing a bunch of clones won't do, even an idiot can understand that. Btw, has it occurred to less mentally impaired that mapping the genome is not equivalent to understanding the working mechanism (even if that is a sensible, although 19th century, paradigm)? Simply recording DNA sequences and associating them with functionality or form is not even close to grasping the syntax or symantics of the DNA 'languange' (my preferred paradigm), which complexity might be profound. It had a looooong time to evolve, ya know. Treat science with a bit more respect, and scientists with a bit less pleaze. Ivo
  • by Jburkholder ( 28127 ) on Monday September 13, 1999 @01:50AM (#1686276)
    That's an interesting point, I guess the difference between humans and other predators is that we have the capability to understand the difference between excessively hunting a species to extinction and just catching the next meal.

    If a pack of hungry aligators jumped on a boat and went to the habitat of the dodo and just gorged themselves on the easy prey, no - I don't think I'd judge them as harshly as humans who did the same thing, because the humans _should_ have the ability to understand the consequences.

    You could argue that the dodo was ill-suited for survival and that their time was over. You could also argue that the dodo (like any living thing) existed in an ecological system where their continued presence was the result of some self-sustaining cycle and that their presence was beneficial. In other words, even though they were flightless and had no evolutionary developed skill for evasion of predators because there had been no predatious pressure, they still were a part of a balanced eco-system where their presence was beneficial (eating overgrowth, producing fertilizer, etc).

    Also - going back to the first post, I think it was funny. Tasteless, but funny.
  • Lighten up. It can be funny and twisted at the same time. Sort of HHOS.
  • I don't like it one bit - this animal is extinct for a reason. What's worse, this animal won't have any of it's kind to "raise" it. Humans would be a sorry lot indeed if we couldn't pass key knowledge onto our offspring - other animals are the same way. The results are completely unpredictable if we try to reanimate long-dead species and reintegrate them into the ecosystem.

    What next - bring back plants from the Jurassic period? We've never had contact with them... they could attact some heretofore unknown disease, or be particularily deadly to us.

    We shouldn't meddle with the affairs of mother nature - this is her lab, not ours. And history has proven time and time again that incompetence breeds massive failures - sometimes fatal. Just watch any AOLer on Usenet to get a good idea of what clueless people are capable of. What if we mess something up and can't repair it? Who are we going to go to for expertise - god? He's been on vacation for thousands of years. Good luck.


  • I believe that it was snakes that killed off the Dodo birds, they somehow got there on boats or somesuch and systematically wiped out the population by eating the eggs.
  • I wonder about the day an animal comes along to hunt us into extinction :)
  • I don't know that we're incapable. You mentioned 'every nuke in existence' - compare oil spills... if "all the oil in existence" was pumped into the ocean...?
  • You don't need as many originals as you would expect. There was a program to save the Mongolian Wild Horse or Przewalski's Horse from extinction when there were just 13 samples in zoos around the world. With careful breeding control, that number is over one hundred now, though I don't have the exact number. With so few samples, there is probably a lot less in the genetic pool than there was, but it's better than not having them at all.
  • From the article:
    The benefit of returning the tiger to a viable population would be incalculable," said Don Colgan, head of the evolutionary biology department of the Australian Museum, which owns the pickled tiger. "It would be a triumph for Australian science."
    Is anyone else concerned by the tone of the scientists involved? Well, if it brings prestige, then by all means - do whatever the heck you want. Ethics? We don't need no stinking ethics.

    This sounds like the beginning of a bad B movie, which eventually involves a 500 foot genetically enhanced cockroach trashing New York and munching on the inhabitants.

    I am saddened that humanity hasn't learned anything from the wisdon of Godzilla movies.

  • Except off course that the marsupial tiger is a native of Australia, and one of the very few mammalian predators.

    In fact, Tim Flannery (author of the Future Eaters) goes so far as to suggest that the Australian ecosystem is in bad need of predators to replace those made extinct. His two suggestions being the reintroduction of Tasmanian Devils to compete/consume foxes, and also Komono dragons to replace the great reptilian predators lost early in human settlement.

  • "How do you spell cat?"


    "That's not how you spell cat"

    "Well, what does it spell then?

  • Not the case. Of course all ecosystems are somewhat isolated, but to imagine that this renders there inhabitants "weak" is a distortion of the process of evolution. In a nutshell: ecosystems evolve not just the individual species within them. Any ecosystem is a large and complex solution to an unique set of problems. Within any such large and complex solution there will be points that are easily exploited by aggressive newcomers. This is not to say there is something wrong with the ecosystem.

    In any case, one of the interesting points about the Australian ecosystem is that it has not been isolated from all placental mammals. This is not the reason (as the poster suggests) for low energy use marsupials and reptiles predominating. The standout example is the bat. Given pig like animals evolved into whales and apes into humans, over the past few million years, it is implausible that "superior" placental mammals such as bats would not have evolved into niches in the Australian ecosystem unless the marsupials had some advantage.

    In the Australian ecosystem energy efficient marsupials have proven to be the superior solution over _evolutionary time_. In the short term placental mammals will disturb the balance of the system, but there is already evidence that these animals are adapting to Australian conditions. In particular, rabbits with smaller litters. How long before they are competing directly with the more highly atuned marsupial reproductive system?
  • How about restoring the sabre-tooth tiger? We can use such big predatory cats with fangs longer than their heads to scare the shit out of hikers and other outdoor adventurers right here in North America. >:)
  • What is going to be next ? ... since ... to my opinion ... Jurrassic Park is coming very close to reality now ...

    Maybe next time we will see a lot of people eaten alive by some "velo" in the middle of New York ...

    Probably the scientists will answer with something like ... "oops, bad clone, lets kill it and lets TRY IT AGAIN to do it better" ...

    Sadly enough ... does the world ever learns some things could be bad to handle ? or immoral to handle? like the accelerator ... cloning ... of'course ... curiousity ... but when will it happen that a very big problem will be coming our way ... like half the earth destroyed because a species or a plant we have cloned that overcomes us ? ... "oops sorry, that was not calculated" ....

    Freaker / TuC

  • I just recently read an article of a Japanese-Russian research group that's trying to bring mammoths back to earth.

  • Whoever rated this as funny should have his moderator rights revoked for a month.

    This is _NOT_ funny. We have destroyed so many species by either eating them or by declaring them as evil that even the top 10 list can make anyone sick.

    Even if the australians do not succed it will still be great if they try. And hopefully be followed by someone else to reincarnate:
    1. The dodo (Mauricius)
    2. The travelling pigeon (USA)
    3. The Berentz cow (Russia/USA)
    And many many more

    And what I hope is that some anti-cloning maniacs following/seeking divine guidance will not try to throw a couple of molotov cocktails in the lab that do this work.

    And yet, life goes on....

    Contrary to what some whackos would like to believe, the world isn't going to end just because we wipe out a few thousand species. It hasn't yet and it won't anytime soon.

  • Please let's not advance the consumerist mentality of humankind any further than it already is.

    If we think along the lines of, "It doesn't matter if we cut down the rainforest, because we can re-make the gorillas somewhere else", we're going to lose sight of why it makes much more sense to live with nature than to fight it constantly.

    I hear this argument from Monsanto: "Well, the chemical agricultural revolution didn't work, and I know we said this last time, but this time, we really do have the answer, in this test tube right here..."

    Pull the other one.

    What we need is to step back and take a holistic approach. I'm not against cloning, but it treats the effect, not the cause.
  • Well, humans often give dolphins fish for free. I have to buy fish. Take away the equal opportunity for the two species to catch fish (and the dolphin is obviously the advantaged predator in that respect), then it looks like in at least one respect an aquatic based mammal seems to be in control ;-)
  • This is slightly different. This is fishing for genes from an extinct spicies in existing population. The russians did it in the 20-30 before the genetics there got banned. They actually succeded in fishing out a curtrently extinct wild horse subspecies out of the south-russian horse population. The problem is that the anti-genetics madness after that killed all the research (as well as some of the people working on it).

    This is the reason for me posting as a major concern the fact that some idiot may throw a molotov in the lab. See my post above.

  • Extinct for a reason? What reason would that be?
    They were killed off by european settlers to protect sheep and chickens (which there were plenty of). They were killed off by wild dogs that were introduced into their own habitat, and they were killed off by foreign diseases. The reason they are extinct is because of our greed.
    Read the fact sheet here [] and please see my other post below.
  • by Lucius Lucanius ( 61758 ) on Monday September 13, 1999 @02:04AM (#1686298)
    "Even though they described the bird as 'walchvogel' meaning
    'disguting to eat' they certainly must have had fun
    clobbering the clumsy creatures that waddled up to them
    only to be hit on the head with a stout staff. In fact the
    name Dodo comes from the Dutch 'Dodars' or 'Dodoor',
    meaning a sluggard or a stupid fool. "

    - This is from

    Hmmm, I find myself getting increasingly fascinated by the Dodo and am reading all about it now.


    PS - That web site says:

    "You are the 6,439th person visiting this page since March 1st, 1999". It will be fun to watch the slashdot effect. Hehehe. They won't know what hit them. Literally.
  • I--R--O--N--Y. S--A--T--I--R--E.

    I suspect that the original poster *ARGEES* with you! His modest proposal is clearly a poke at the people who actually would think of such a thing (albiet probably not in so many words) -- if you don't get this, please go study a history of satire, starting with J. Swift.

  • That isn't exactly a valid analogy, considering that with our technology we could hunt to extinction pretty much any large land animal we wanted to.

    Besides, there really are good reasons for having large dumb docile animals: they're great for domestication. If you've read Guns, Germs, and Steel you'd know that a primary reason that native Austrailian and American cultures were so far behind their European invaders was that their ancestors had hunted to extinction most all the large herbivores native to their lands. We would all have a much greater variety of meat now if those ignorant hunters had the foresight that we now possess.
  • Not as many are you would think, I read in the new scienist that 47 monkeys are more genetically diverse than the entire human population!

    As to how to bring back an extinct species and a compatible one, if you have the sperm you can bring them back, by fertalising a generically compatible special, (like mammoth and elephant) get a female one, and do the same again and again. Within 4 generations you get within 93.625% of the orginal. 50+25+12.5+6.125, actually thats the minimum as the species was genetically compatible in the first place, it will share many traits.
  • Not personally bashing you but the damming of the fraklin just was plain stupid... currently tasmainia uses about 45% of its available electric output from all the other damms... homusexuality is another matter though (its finally leagal in tas)
  • Still, there is only a maximum of twelve copies of each gene. I agree that maybe with a very good programme you may be able to keep them viable, but you'd still be working a long time to breed out the traits you don't want. I still don't see that you can keep a population healthy, without changing them from Tasmanian Tigers into something else.
    And then indeed there are the social problems.
  • Uh, excuse me, but the last time I check the encycopedia, a dung beetle was not classified as an "animal" I believe they are an insect. May I suggest a Jack-Ass. A member of the donkey family.
  • It is my understanding that this animal is very much like a marsupial dog.

    It's been a while, so I admit I could be wrong.

  • Clone old King Tut. That boy would be rich.
    He died thinking he would live again.

    If I had the equipment and know how, I'd clone
  • AFAIK this is not that much of a problem (except that it sucks for the individuals who are subjected to premature aging) as long as offspring are possible. The telomeres will be regenerated in the stem cells.

    That said, having these critters reproduce seems fairly pointless -- the limited gene pool means that you won't really bring back a species, just have a few cute examples of what the world used to be like.

  • We shouldn't meddle with the affairs of mother nature - this is her lab, not ours.

    It's too late. We already have meddled, and that's why a lot of species are extinct that might not be.

    Heck, there's no way we can't "meddle" -- we're right smack in the middle of it. Anything we do -- or don't do -- will have an effect. What we need to do is get a lot better at thinking about what we're doing, and the effects thereof.

    It's like Stewart Brand said: "We are as gods and might as well get good at it." Hell, we'd better get damn good at it, and quick, before we seriously fuck things up.

  • hmmm.... anyone with that plan would have to have a LOT of time on their hands to see what happens there. :) Try computer simulations of evolutionary models... they might do something within your great- x10^6 grandkids lifetime.
  • It wasn't flamebait... They have very localised ecosystems, but they still can adapt, especially if they were raised in the new enviornment...
  • This happened in Guam. Brown tree snakes were introduced and their reign of terror began. The native bird populations have dwindled while I cannot remember if any bird species have actually gone extinct yet due to the brown tree snake, many are threatened.

    I remember a story (probably apochyrphal(sp)) about an early explorer who wrote in his journals how a curious dodo actually walked up to a boiling pot and climbed in. While probably not true, the dodo had no reason to fear the men since they had never had any predators before.

    Still, I always wonder what to do when an endangered animal only eats endangered plants.
  • Going against nature is also part of nature; the endless debate about man "interfering" with nature, and the idea that "man-made" equals "unnatural" are both old and wrong. Man is part of nature, and all of man's acts are part of nature. "Unnatural" and "supernatural" are meaningless words.

    Bringing back an extinct species is not unnatural. On the contrary, is it both natural and good.

    If the planet is viewed as a single living organism, as individual human cells and symbiotes make up our bodies, then humans are the brains of the operation. It's good that the planet is starting to learn to take care of itself.

    Although I wouldn't personally mourn the extinction of the mosquito.
  • But I do wish that the media would stop pushing the idea that a clone might be created with an intact set of memories, a complete person! That sort of information simply isn't stored in DNA.

    Actually it is, but only the Bene Tleilax know how to keep the memories intact. And I don't think they will licensing their axlotl tanks any time soon.

  • Creationism: no place for it in high schools
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Right, it was a marsupial. I guess an attempt to clone from a Tasmanian Devil _might_ succeed, but I think there's a lot more to this than just getting a viable T Devil egg cell and replacing its nucleus with material from the pickled Thylacine pup. Gestation is quite complex in marsupials--the baby has to develop the capacity to leave the safety of the ovary and move to the external pouch at just the right time, and at this point its digestive system also has to be well enough developed to digest the mother's milk. Although the thylacine may be related remotely to the Tas Devil, or to other extant marsupials, this is no guarantee that their embryology is sufficiently close to permit a viable gestation.
  • I am wondering about whether its worthwhile to clone an extinct animal. From what I remember of my High school biology, when 2 things of similar (99% similar within the species) mate, inbreeding occurs. Remember the idea of cousins marrying cousins, mating and causing genetic defects? These extinct animals then could only exist in a lab. Yes I remember hearing that even though Dolly is not exactly like the sheep she was cloned from, I dont think that science can adequately predict what will happen.

    It all seems like a bad idea to me.
  • That isn't exactly a valid analogy, considering that with our technology we could hunt to extinction pretty much any large land animal we wanted to. Why does that make it any different? All dominant species have some characteristics that make them dominant... it's what makes them *DOMINANT* in the first place. As in: some animals have sharp teeth and claws, and others run/swim/fly very fast to avoid prey. We have brains, which allow us to make tools/weapons which make us the dominant species on earth. It *IS* natural selection at its finest.
  • This happened in Guam. Brown tree snakes were introduced and their reign of terror began.
    I believe you are correct. I also read about a scheme for killing the snakes: "mousicles" (frozen mouse pups with poison pills inside them) are dropped in the forest inside cardboard tubes. Snakes can get into the tubes to eat them, most other things can't. Result: the snakes die. I hope it works, it's clever.
    Still, I always wonder what to do when an endangered animal only eats endangered plants.
    The situation with the dodo appears to be the opposite. The dodo evolved in sync with a number of other species, including trees. IIRC, there is a species of tree whose fruit is too large for anything else to eat comfortably, and it requires passage through a bird's digestive system before it will germinate. After the passage of the dodo, this tree had few or no seedlings until someone decided to force-feed the fruits to turkeys; the seeds passed by the turkeys germinated and grew. Bringing back the dodo would restore the populations of these trees as well (then again, so would breeding giant turkeys which would eat these fruits).
  • I have long opined that citizens of the industrialized nations spend too much time complaining about trivial problems, since most of their big ones are solved, or nearly so. My proposed remedy was an infestation of Giant Flying Tigers (TM). That would get us focused on the things that really matter.

    "You want to impose gun control? Screw that, gella. I need my gun for protection against Giant Flying Tigers(TM)!"

    "I don't care if he sexually harassed you, Jim. The fact is, he's a fine hand in a pinch. Remember what he did when Giant Flying Tigers (TM) took over the building?"

    "Leave the abortion clinic alone, Elsie. The news says there's a swarm of Giant Flying Tigers (TM) headed our way. First things first, dammit!"

    But these aren't real tigers, and they don't fly, and they don't plan to release them in our cities. So what's the use?


  • The irony here is that the conservationists and park ranger bureaucrats who failed to save the poor mutts the first time around are the ones who are fighting to prevent the scientists from giving them a second chance at failure.

    More irony: The tasmanian tiger might not even be extinct! T'would be hi-larious if they spent $30M to bring back something that is alive and well in indonesia... (

    And here is a nifty movie of the last tasmanian tiger. It's 1.5 megs and in quicktime. He is one ugly critter; watch him tear a rat to pieces. ext.html

    I don't know how to make direct links work and I'm too lazy to look very hard. Sorry. Just cut and paste and then enjoy.


  • Segfault is over here []. You seem to have gotten lost.
  • I doubt you have any idea whether or not this species can adapt to a new environment, especially after 133 years of human interference. Some species might be able to, some might not.

    And whoever moderated my comment as flamebait, would you care to explain why?

    I assumed that the first part of the comment was flamebait on account of a.) its lack of sensitivity towards creatures without the ability to adapt to generic changes humankind might make, and b.) the second part of the comment making the assertion that a species' right to live or die should be based on aesthetics, which smells of flamebait in my book.

  • Anyone else find it curious just how positive an attitude most (obviously not all) posters have towards cloning. I was under the impression that most of the population was opposed to cloning! But then we are smarter than most of the population, I suppose.
  • Besides, how better to study evolution than to terraform a planet, stick a bunch of dinosaurs and cockroaches on it, and see what happens?

    That's easy, first the Cockroaches kick the shit out of the dinosaurs, then they build spaceships, come back here, and eat us too!

  • I can't stand it when some luddite comes out and denounces cloning or whatever because it will take away interest from preserving existing species.


    Is the goal to perpetuate the existing process, no matter how broken it is, or is the goal to figure out the best way to help save animals from extinction?

    It seems that the guy who says that cloning will take away from preserving existing species is really afraid that his paycheck will be taken away and he might have to switch jobs.

    Cloning is just one technical solution to saving species that might become or are already extince. We should develop the technology and use it.

  • Read all about the Tasmanian Tiger here []

  • Ancient Aztec legend held that the end of the world would come when jaguars fell from the sky and ate everyone. They had specific holidays and sacrifices specifically designed to postpone this...


  • Well...the sparrows better start doing a better job with those mosquitos...
  • But what of all the animals whose sole source of food is mosquitos? Would you mourn the sparrow?

    If it was those damn sparrows that were introduced in NYC in the mid-1800s so the new world could have all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare, I say go for it.

    There was a recent Bruce Sterling novel "Distraction" in which the human population (or at least the Cajuns) was innoculated with antibodies that killed the mosquitos. There were still mosquitos afterwards, but none that had a taste for humans!
  • If they want to reintroduce the species (in the long term even), I hope they froze cells of enough different exemplars (100? Anyone here have an idea of how many different DNA samples you would need to create a healthy population?) or they will have to clone the same animal again and again which doesnt seem too useful to me.
  • by .pentai. ( 37595 ) on Monday September 13, 1999 @12:46AM (#1686348) Homepage
    Yes folks, it's official, next month they are going to be even more adventurous, and bring back the ever dreaded Mac Clone.

    After consulting with many MANY scientists, they decided it would be the ultimate test of science to Clone the Mac.

    However, Apple seems to disagree...

    (Note: this is a joke, all names and faces were left in tact because nobody is truly innocent.)
  • Whoever rated this as funny should have his moderator rights revoked for a month.

    This is _NOT_ funny. We have destroyed so many species by either eating them or by declaring them as evil that even the top 10 list can make anyone sick.

    Even if the australians do not succed it will still be great if they try. And hopefully be followed by someone else to reincarnate:
    1. The dodo (Mauricius)
    2. The travelling pigeon (USA)
    3. The Berentz cow (Russia/USA)
    And many many more

    And what I hope is that some anti-cloning maniacs following/seeking divine guidance will not try to throw a couple of molotov cocktails in the lab that do this work.

    I have taken the DNA from pickled slashdot columns and cloned them to create this scientifically advanced post.

    P.S. I refuse to participate in any further tiger cloning unless the DNA is released under an Open Source licence.
  • by Pascal of S ( 23541 ) on Monday September 13, 1999 @12:54AM (#1686356) Homepage
    Okay, I agree that actually creating an animal from DNA salvaged from a dead-animal-in-a-jar is quite a feat, that will indeed do much for research in fertility and might well help preserve existing species. However, the Tasmanian Tiger will probably not be helped much, with only six DNA samples, the genepool is small to say the least. The first and second generations may do well, although chances are that there are already too many errors in the existing DNA. The DNA in the Jar does not preserve very well, as it is still subject to background radiation that will do damage.
    All the information is probably still in there, as there are enough cells that all have a piece of correct DNA. To my knowledge there is no technique to combine all 'good' pieces and filter out the bad other than sequencing ALL of it several times. Then you can compare the sequences and try to synthesize the DNA. Which turns you back to yesterdays problem with the 'artificial bacterium', but then multiplied 10,000 times. Not to mention that at present we cannot even sequence one human in less than ten years, with several thousand of laboratories working together.
    But okay, lets assume they have done it. When you breed them, you will have to inbreed them after the third generation, which is NOT a good idea with such a small genepool. Even lab mice, in which most bad traits have been out-bred long ago, don't respond well to that kind of inbreeding.
    The technology might be useful, but not for resurecting long-dead animals, except if you're willing to keep doing it over and over again. At best you may be able to crossbreed it with a close relative again, but then it wouldn't be a tasmanian tiger anymore...
  • by Alanzilla ( 43079 ) on Monday September 13, 1999 @02:57AM (#1686361)
    Whoever rated this as funny should have his moderator rights revoked for a month.

    This is _NOT_ funny. We have destroyed so many computers by either eating them or by declaring them as evil that even the top 10 list can make anyone sick.

    Even if the australians do not succed it will still be great if they try. And hopefully be followed by someone else to reincarnate:
    1. The Compaq
    2. CP/M
    3. The Apple II
    And many many more

    And what I hope is that some anti-cloning maniacs following/seeking divine guidance will not try to throw a couple of molotov cocktails in the lab that do this work.
  • Although I wouldn't personally mourn the extinction of the mosquito.

    But what of all the animals whose sole source of food is mosquitos? Would you mourn the sparrow?
    "'Is not a quine' is not a quine" is a quine.

  • Interesting point in the article about the cost of bringing back the tiger. However, it makes me think. Cloning is a technology that is very "sexy" right now. This means that scientists are going to be running around like headless chickens trying to get gramnts for bigger and better cloning projects.

    This worries me a little. I'm worried, because it sounds like these scientists are trying to bite off more than they can chew. The more high price, but high risk projects that fail, the less likely that companies will stump up the money for further projects. Eventually, cloning whithers up and becomes a pariah science - like VR research did in the late 80's.

    Of course, VR research still goes on, but if there hadn't been so much hype, bandwagon hopping and generally badly thought out, but highly publicised projects, a steady stream of investments into VR might by now have produced greater results.

    Of course, the majority of experiments should go ahead, but when I hear of "cloning extinct Auzzie marsupials back to life", I just know that this is going to make it to all the tabloids around the world, with no mention of how astronomically difficult such a venture should be.

    Perhaps we should try reviving something a little simpler first before issuing the press releases about mammoth steaks being reanimated!

  • The article states that they intend to extract DNA from a pup that has been preserved in alcohol since 1866. So it wouldn't be adult DNA used, nor embryo DNA, but whatever they can get out of a pickled infant.

    Yet even Dolly's researchers haven't found that cloning an adult is all a bad thing. Dolly has had offspring, and they mature and grow just like any other lamb does. Therefore, even if they tried to clone an *adult* Tasmanian Tiger and succeeded, as long as they managed to produce a breeding pair, ideally they could *breed* a tiger that wouldn't have the DNA problems that Dolly does.

    Personally, I'm rather hot and cold on this topic. I see a lot of uses for cloning that probably won't see light of day in any respectable lab (though I don't doubt that all sorts of research will be relegated to deep, dark basement labs under the direction of Mad Scientists(tm)), this is something I can see as being useful - especially if we ever decide to colonize other worlds. Imagine - terraform a planet, and you have an *entire* ecosystem to fill. I doubt that the animals we have left to us now would be able to populate and fill an entire, virgin world. More likely those that Man has managed to send the way of the Dodo (of course) would be just as useful as any we may have left at that point in whatever few 'wild' habitats there are left.

    Besides, how better to study evolution than to terraform a planet, stick a bunch of dinosaurs and cockroaches on it, and see what happens?
  • There is an interesting article in Science Daily [] about a a 21 year old bull's DNA being used as cloning material, they have a clone up and around right now and are supervising it carefully to see signs of premature aging or suseptability to disease etc...

    I don't see a huge problem if the telomeres are truncated due to age or not. Appending a new length to the ends of the chromosomes can't be that difficult anyway since you only have to do it to the original source DNA anyway, of course with ~200 tries to every successful clone this could get tedious fast...

    "And this whole research area is where you should be looking if you really want to save species." Great, so we have lots of formerly dead species and can only keep them in Zoos because all the habitat has been paved over. Give that man a giant spatuala for the most self-serving scientist of the year award.

Loose bits sink chips.