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

Experts Push for Humane Euthanasia of Invasive Species

Experts Push for Humane Euthanasia of Invasive Species

A group has started looking at the culling methods of “unwanted animals” to determine if there are better ways.  Invasive species are often considered pests in their non-native homes, including possums, rabbits, beavers, cats, and...

Warmer Temperatures Will Make Predators Fiercer

Warmer Temperatures Will Make Predators Fiercer

Image: Wikimedia Commons Predators will start becoming even fiercer as global temperatures rise, says a new study that looked at how warmer conditions could affect diversity and competition between species. According to a...

Octopus ‘Masters Of Disguise’ Are Completely Colorblind

Octopus ‘Masters Of Disguise’ Are Completely Colorblind

Researchers have just confirmed that while cephalopods (octopus, cuttlefish and squid) are experts at camouflaging themselves, they’re completely colorblind. Professor Justin Marshall and Dr Wen-Sung Chung of the Queensland Brain Institute studied octopus...

Giant New Species of Ghost Shark Wields Bizarre Buckteeth

Giant New Species of Ghost Shark Wields Bizarre Buckteeth

The mystical ghost shark has inhabited the deepest ocean depths since before the age of the dinosaurs and scientists have just recently discovered the 50th species — reportedly the second largest in history. Ghost...

You Can’t Unsee This Weird Giant Shipworm

You Can’t Unsee This Weird Giant Shipworm

A giant worm-like sea creature the size of a baseball bat was recently spotted by scientists for the first time, and you may wish you’d never seen them. Though their long, tusk-like shells...

This May Be Why ‘Man-Eating’ Lions Targeted Humans

This May Be Why ‘Man-Eating’ Lions Targeted Humans

Image: Wikimedia Commons Humans typically aren’t a favorite menu item for lions, but occasionally, they do prey on people. Perhaps the most infamous incident was in 1898, when a pair of lions went on...

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