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Re: Quaternary Park?
Derek Tearne wrote:
> 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
> 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!
Right, but at least they have habitat in which to live. Mammoths
don't. Other species have taken their place.
> 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 to survival.
Right, and there's a point to it: those animals and their habitats still
exist. Neither is true with mammoths.
> 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.
No, they can't. Mammoths have no place in the world today. They have
no habitat in which to live (unless you want to displace a good chunk of
the world's elephants). If you brought them back the only place for
them would be zoos.
> 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.
Sure, because their habitat is there. The ecosystem in which they live
still exists. In short, there's a point to bringing them back. The same
argument cannot be made with mammoths.
> 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.
Right, and in that time its native habitat (Australia) hasn't changed
enough that there's no place for it any longer. Fine, bring it back if
the opportunity arises.
> 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.
No, it's not. Go for it, particularly in New Zealand (where habitat for
the guy presumably still exists).
> And what about the Moa - without question hunted to extinction by
> humans, should we try to bring them back?
Is their habitat intact? Is there a place for them in the world? If
there is, bring 'em back. If not, there's no point because they have
nowhere to live.
> Apart from all that resurrecting mammoths would be cool, ditto the
> dodo, moa and the giant gecko and the tasmanian tiger...
Right . . .
> 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.
They're doing lots better now, but it was touch and go for awhile. They
certainly don't need competition in the form of mammoths.
Basically, before we bring a species back we need a place to put it.
For mammoths, that would be Africa, Asia, and North America. I don't
see a helluva lot of safe ground in any of the above, particularly since
they would be novel enough that they'd be poached into oblivion faster
than you could spit. A gecko in New Zealand or a bird on an otherwise
deserted island is one thing, but a big ol' elephant in the middle of
some of the most populous and tumultuous regions in the world is a whole