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Re: Quaternary Park?



At 16:20 -0500 7/7/98, Chris Campbell wrote:
>Ralph Miller III wrote:
>> Actually, mammoths died out more recently than that (about 10,000 years
>> ago, I believe), not counting the island pygmies which hung on until about
>> 4,000 years ago, although I would think that the scientists are primarily
>> interested in the big varieties (which have been found frozen).
>>
>> Given the elephant's long gestation  and maturation periods, this
>> cross-breeding could take some time.
>
>But . . . gods, why?  We can barely keep the elephants we have alive,
>and they want to add to our problems?  There's no place for mammoths in
>the world today.  They're extinct, and life goes on.  Why bring back the
>dead?

And why bother trying to preserve species on the brink of extinction?
They'd get wiped out by natural attrition anyway, not to mention the
next mass extinction!

There are many reasons why we're prepared to attempt to preserve species
which are on the brink of extinction due to human environmental pressures
(hunting, loss of habitat etc.).  These range from guilt through both
philanthropy and greed[1] to survival[2].

If we can justify attempting to save currently endangered species,
then all those arguments can be used to justify the resurrection of
species that we have already hunted/out competed to extinction.


The Takahe is a local bird which is extremely rare.  Most of the survivors
are on a couple of Islands which have been made rodent free.  I'm pretty
sure there is stored genetic material in various universities.  If some
ignorant jerk parks their yacht next to one of these islands and loses
one of their dogs for a couple of hours most of the existing Takahe
could be history.  Would it be justified to bring these creatures back
through genetic engineering techniques?  After all it would probably
cost less to do than the average superyacht would take to build.

I think that yes is pretty clearly the answer.

What about the Tasmanian Tiger, although there have been a few possible
sightings these are highly likely to have become extinct when the last
living specimen was killed in 1961 - the year I was born.

I think that yes should be the answer here too.

The New Zealand giant gecko may have still been around less than a century
ago, the last examples probably killed by collectors.

A century isn't that much of a stretch really.

And what about the Moa - without question hunted to extinction by
humans, should we try to bring them back?

Apart from all that resurrecting mammoths would be cool, ditto the
dodo, moa and the giant gecko and the tasmanian tiger...

Incidentally Elephants aren't particularly endangered.  Indian Elephants
are to a large extent domesticated and therefore have a good chance of
survival.  African Elephants may be pretty thin on the ground over much of
west and central Africa, there are however too many of them in parts of
Southern Africa.

--- Derek

[1] There's all manner of commercially valuable pharmaceuticals in
those dissapearing rainforests.

[2] We know that mass extinctions are accompanied by reduction in the
number of species and groups, we don't know yet whether this is a cause
or effect of an extinction event - if it's a cause we'd better watch out)




---
Derek Tearne.   ---   @URL Internet Consultants  ---  http://url.co.nz
Some of the more environmentally aware dinosaurs were worried about the
consequences of an accident with the new Iridium enriched fusion reactor.
"If it goes off only the cockroaches and mammals will survive..." they said.