Should We Clone Extinct Animals?
For several years, the debate regarding the question "Should we clone extinct animals?" has been going strong in defense of some of the most magnificent and majestic creatures to ever roam planet Earth. Some are highly enthusiastic about the possibility of cloning some animals, with dinosaurs and mammoths being some of the most commonly discussed species. Yet, others have been strongly against this debate, with many different valid arguments. While some of the arguments are rather minuscule and unimportant for the majority of us, there are so many different viewpoints that do add value to this debate.
Whatever side that you may be on currently, you might be delighted to learn about the different benefits and consequences of the idea of cloning extinct animals, as well as whether or not it is truly possible at this point in time. Do you think we should clone extinct animals in the near future? Or should they be left as extinct?
The Mammoth Quiz
For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.
- How Long Ago Did Mammoths Go Extinct?
- 3,700 Years Ago
- 10,000 Years Ago
- 20,000 Years Ago
- About How Long Was the Average Tusk?
- 5 Feet
- 16 Feet
- 35 Feet
- Where Was Lyuba the Baby Mammoth Discovered?
- Were Mammoths About the Same Size as African Elephants?
- Where Did Mammoths Live?
- The Northern Hemisphere
- Only at the Poles, Where It Stays Cold
- The Southern Hemisphere
- Mammoths Had Both an Undercoat and a Top Coat. How Long Could the Hairs from the Top Coat Get?
- 4 Inches
- 8 Inches
- 1.5 Feet
- 3 Feet
- 3,700 Years Ago
- 5 Feet
- The Northern Hemisphere
- 4 Inches
Supporting the Cloning of Extinct Animals
For many, cloning extinct animals would help the world to see and admire these creatures in real life. We should clone extinct animals in order to teach the world more about them, while also gathering more information from the clones to learn about the world's ancient animal species more in depth. Scientists and biologists could learn so much from cloned extinct animals- it could even give us more information regarding evolution, the reasons behind extinction, and much more.
Cloning animals would also allow us to keep many of the world's current endangered species from being lost, while recovering the species which have undergone extinction recently. When animals die out, it can affect an ecosystem very badly; even causing other animal species to die out. Cloning animals that have been lost completely will take life science and our knowledge of history to the next level. For many, there are not any real consequences to rescuing endangered species or recently extinct species through cloning; however, that's not completely accurate in many cases.
Arguing De-Extinction: Why We Shouldn't Clone Extinct Animals
While cloning animals could be incredibly exciting and pose a whole new world of opportunity to scientists, the truth is that the cloning of extinct animals could wind up in disaster. I am a full supporter of science and bringing these long lost animals back to life- but even I have my concerns and doubts.
For starters, bringing back extinct species could bring with it a world of trouble. A de-extinct species could pose serious risks to current ecosystems, especially if a group were to be released into the wild to repopulate. For animals such as the mammoth, the ecosystems that they once fit very well into are now long gone and replaced. They would become competition for current species, while potentially lowering numbers of currently endangered animals.
In addition to this, the animals would most likely be kept captive, and continuously poked and prodded by scientists. This is absolutely no way to live, human or animal. The animal would be lonely as well, and most likely would not have another of its species to interact with.
Cloning has proved to greatly lower the life expectancy of animals, such as with Dolly the sheep for example. This could prevent the animal from reaching a healthy breeding age, hampering breeding efforts.
Why Cloning Extinct Animals Would Not Work
Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that we will ever see cloned extinct animals alive and well. Cloning animals that are currently alive has already presented a world of challenges, especially when it comes to their expected lifespan.
When an animal is conceived in the womb, the DNA from the mother (the egg cell) makes up half of the animal's genetic makeup, while the DNA of the father (the sperm cell) makes up the other half. These two halves come together to produce a single, fully functional cell that is capable of reproducing. The DNA comes together, and the cell immediately begins to reproduce to form the fetus of a new baby animal. From the very first division of the original conceived cell, the DNA breaks down through the repeated process of cell reproduction. The DNA of an adult animal is far more damaged than that of a younger animal; and producing a new baby animal from that damaged DNA can prove to be incredibly unsuccessful. Should the cloning be successful, the animal could face many different health issues and a shortened lifespan.
Considering that this applies to animals that are currently living, you can now imagine the challenges that science would face when it comes to cloning animals that have gone extinct. The harvested DNA would clearly come from a dead animal; but, upon the death of a creature, the cells in the body begins to break down. This means that the DNA undergoes significant damage, leaving little viable DNA for scientists to piece together enough to create a cloned animal. If an animal has been dead for several thousand years (such as a Wooly Mammoth or Smilodon), it can quickly be assumed that it is highly unlikely that any DNA which is found would be viable. The only hope for scientists to clone an extinct animal is to find a well-preserved body; preferably frozen. Even though these bodies have been found, it is still nearly impossible to find impeccably preserved DNA that can be used for the purposes of cloning.
One Extinct Species I Want to See Make A Comeback: Neanderthals
Alright, so we all know that Neanderthals weren't exactly animals. However, I still want to see the de-extinction of Neanderthals! They were a very close cousin to Homo Sapiens (humans). I wonder just how much different they were from us, and just why they went extinct. Scientists have no plans to bring Neanderthals back to life, because it would be far too much trouble (and fairly dangerous) for the human mother and the proposed child. Unfortunately, there probably would not be much of a way to bring them back even if everyone was in support of this due to the lack of well preserved genetic material. They are still incredibly fascinating and we learn more and more about this human cousin throughout the years!
samowhamo on April 18, 2014:
Interesting though I am not as easily convinced that we will never be able to clone extinct animals I mean sure we can't do it now but given future developments in science and technology we probably will be able to clone extinct animals.
Already there are interesting developments in technological progress some people even say that by the middle of this century we will have smarter than human artificial intelligence an event known as the technological singularity. Sometime before that we may even have robots that will be able to function autonomously and may even be granted the same rights and freedoms that humans have and may even have emotions. We humans may even have relationships with these robots. Well anyway back to the subject.
Personally if I were able to and if I were allowed to I would clone dinosaurs though I probably wouldn't do it here on Earth. I would probably do it on some other planet (though I would terraform the planet first so that it would support life) so that no human life would be harmed. And why stop at cloning dinosaurs why not breed new species of dinosaurs.
CennyWenny from Washington on April 14, 2014:
I disagree about cloning Neanderthals. There is quite a lot of evidence that homo sapiens helped hasten their extinction the first time around and I have little faith we would treat them much better this time around. Being held captive as a science experiment is no way to live (as you said yourself) and these are hardly animals we are talking about. Could we learn a lot, sure. But would it be cruel to bring any extinct hominid back into this modern day and age where their only realistic habitat would be in captivity? My opinion is yes.
Juan Moreno on December 06, 2013:
I think YES because we could have fun with all these animals in our ecosystem and stuff like that. Also if we had dinosaurs around we could take them to school or fly them.
Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on November 21, 2013:
Insert Jurassic Park joke here. I think you need to read less science and watch a few more movies and then you would be frightened away from this whole idea of cloning. Of course I believe in scientific discovery, and this would definitely have to be done in tightly controlled laboratory conditions so that there would be no chance for any of these cloned creatures to escape and contaminate existing ecosystems. Great hub and fascinating idea!
Jim Kerry on October 15, 2013:
Yes, very interesting indeed. It would be very good to see in the future, to an extent.
Fang on September 27, 2013:
WHY A NEADRATHAL?!
angryelf (author) from Tennessee on June 30, 2013:
Thank you! And it would most definitely be amazing to see them coexist with homo sapiens; but they do say that many humans probably do have Neanderthal roots!
HeatherH104 from USA on June 30, 2013:
I agree, I'd love to see Neanderthals cloned. I don't doubt that the cloning technology will improve in the future and overcome the current obstacles.
Very interesting hub, voted up!