Is De-Extinction Worth the Cost?

Image: Mauricio Antón, Wikimedia Commons

Scientists are getting closer to reviving extinct species — but are the benefits worth losing species we already have? 

The theoretical idea began with the legendary Jurassic Park and it is becoming a reality now more than ever before. The ability to manipulate DNA has opened the doorway into a whole new realm of science.

The idea of de-extinction is most aptly highlighted by recent research into resurrecting the wooly mammoth using technology known as CRISPR. CRISPR allows scientists to cut and paste DNA strands from one animal to another with extreme precision, paving the way to the rebirth of extinct species using their preserved DNA inserted into other animals and in turn growing a hybrid fetus.

For Harvard biologist George Church, this means resurrecting the wooly mammoth utilizing Asian elephant DNA, which in addition to rebirthing an extinct animal gives an endangered species a chance to thrive again.

Image: Michael Ströck, Wikimedia Commons

(Read more about resurrecting the wooly mammoth)

Although there has been moderate success in these scientific advancements, the physical revitalization of an extinct species is still years away. In addition to the scientific hurdles of these projects, there is an important controversy that disputes the process entirely.

What about the species we already have?

Protecting endangered species currently on the planet is an uphill battle — one that requires more monetary resources than we are using. Rebirthing extinct species may do more harm than good in the long run as it would undeniably divert away limited conservation funds. The financial cost of de-extinction may not offset the benefits, and will surely result in further loss of species currently on our planet.

Researchers are currently weighing the benefits and costs of de-extinction. In a study published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, they stated reintroduction of one species could at best be neutral but at worst harm up to 14 existing species.

The Latest

Invasive Lionfish Hunt in Packs and Destroy Ecosystems

Invasive Lionfish Hunt in Packs and Destroy Ecosystems

Image: Wikimedia Commons Meet the lionfish: the attractive, but deadly predator that’s terrorizing oceans and decimating ecosystems. Native to the Indian and Pacific oceans, lionfish have now made themselves at home throughout the...

This Giant Deer Species Went Extinct Wielding 12ft Antlers

This Giant Deer Species Went Extinct Wielding 12ft Antlers

The largest deer species ever to walk the earth bore 12ft antlers but died out more than 10,000 years ago — leaving scientists debating its evolution. Megaloceros giganteus has many names, including the...

Wild Jaguars Are Returning to the United States

Wild Jaguars Are Returning to the United States

In the United States, mountain lions and bobcats are currently the biggest felines around; but there was once a different big cat that ruled the American Southwest — the jaguar. If you’ve watched a few...

Is De-Extinction Worth the Cost?

Is De-Extinction Worth the Cost?

Scientists are getting closer to reviving extinct species — but are the benefits worth losing species we already have?  The theoretical idea began with the legendary Jurassic Park and it is becoming a reality now...

Monkey Teaches Human How to Use Tools to Survive

Monkey Teaches Human How to Use Tools to Survive

Chimpanzees are our closest relatives, so it’s no surprise that they use tools to survive in the wilderness. But other less advanced primates make use of tools as well, and they use them...

DNA Reveals “Genetic Meltdown” Decimated Woolly Mammoths

DNA Reveals “Genetic Meltdown” Decimated Woolly Mammoths

Woolly mammoths are the most famous of all Ice Age fauna, and they roamed the frozen wastelands of North America and Eurasia until they died out roughly 10,000 years ago. Their extinction is...

ABOUT US

Roaring Earth brings you thrilling, unique and thought-provoking stories about the natural world. From the wildest places on earth, to extraordinary encounters in our own backyards. Whether shot by a world-renowned filmmaker with the most exclusive camera equipment or by you on your smart phone or trail cam, we are sharing stories that are rarely covered and giving a voice to to the wildlife enthusiast within us all.

The Latest

More Roaring Videos