Bringing back extinct animals

Well, I don’t know if this topic was already talked but as I’m quite new here, I’d like to know what you all think.
This is what scientists say
There are a number of research benefits that come with de-extinction. For instance, some scientists believe studying previously extinct animals and looking at how they function could help fill some gaps in our current theories around evolution.

De-extinction could also have a beneficial impact on the environment. That’s because when an animal goes extinct, its absence has a ripple effect on all the flora and fauna involved in that animal’s food web.

Because of this, reintroducing previously extinct species back into their old ecosystems could help rebalance and restore the environment.


I personally think that bringing back extinct is a terrible idea. Instead on focusing on the species that need protection, they’re trying to clone an animals that went extinct a long time ago, two examples are the dodo and the wolly mammoth.

Colossal’s biotech and genetic engineering teams are combining woolly mammoth and elephant DNA to recreate a next-generation mammoth capable of surviving in the Arctic and helping restore that ecosystem. “These embryos will be implanted into healthy female elephant surrogates with our first calves expected in 5 years,” accounting for the 22-month gestation period, Ben Lamm, co-founder and CEO of Colossal.

A similar process is being used with the Tasmanian tiger’s genome and similar mammal DNA to bring back that predator – exterminated in the early 20th century – to the island off the southeast tip of Australia.

Colossal is creating an Avian Genomics Group to bring back the dodo and, eventually, other extinct bird species “through genetic rescue techniques and its de-extinction toolkit,” the company said in its announcement. Colossal also announced $150 million in investments, boosting to $225 million its funding since the company’s September 2021 debut.


To me, it’s a waste of money. We could use that money to protect endangered species and make more restrictions on animals that really need our help. :woman_shrugging:


The dodo went extinct very recently — only a few hundred years ago. Barely yesterday.

I agree resources would be better spent preserving habitats and protecting the climate for living animals.

Still sounds fascinating, though.


Yeah, I also think it would be pretty cool to see these extinct creatures, but in my opinion we should also be concerned about the negative consequences that it could have if it doesn’t go as planned.


Long enough that the world of today is presumably different from the one they flourished in, though.

Though I don’t know that bringing something that only went extinct recently back would be any better, because the forces (poaching, habitat loss, fungal infections in amphibians, etc) that caused that more recent extinction are presumably still around.

Plus, if there is a method to “undo” extinctions, could that disincentivize preservation efforts?

I think you are probably right.


This isn’t an either or proposition. Colossal seems to be a private company with private funding. Most conservation efforts come from public funding. There is no reason to assume that if there were less funding for Colossal the surplus would go to conservation efforts.


I agree with you.

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Fair enough, but there may be some overlap between people interested in reversing an extinction and in those who want to prevent further extinctions.


Possibly. The end results differ greatly though. If I invest 10 million dollars in a genetic engineering program that results in the first dodo that has been seen in hundreds of years I will probably see a return on my investment. That dodo and the technology that allowed it will have great monetary value. I can reinvest that money as I see fit.

However, if I invest that same amount of money saving an endangered frog I’m unlikely to see any financial return. My money is gone. I’ll need to get more cash somewhere else if I want to continue my philanthropy.


I wonder if de-extinction would increase apathy towards conservation efforts. Like, “oh who cares if that species goes extinct, we can always bring it back again.” I already get the sense that there is a group of people that see technology over conservation as the better solution (e.g., robotic bees over pollinator-friendly practices).


yeah, I’m worried about that too… :neutral_face:

Some previous related threads include:


How I feel about it:


I think that a good question could be: would it be ethical? Especially for organisms that are extinct from a long time.
We also should consider all the suffering that these researches could provide in the first attempts that would unavoidably fail.

Recently we have seen some extremely controversial researches that, according to scientists, should have brought many benefits while, actually, turned out extremely problematic. Being a scientist does not necessarily mean to be trustwothy.


I’m not sure if the ecological niche for Passenger Pigeons still exists given that the expansive eastern forests are gone, and American Chestnut (which might have been a major food source) is functionally extinct. Maybe they can do fine on acorns in the woodlots that still exist; I think it’s unclear what their breeding requirements were. Similar situation with Woolly Mammoths; I doubt they could be introduced in the wild given how much things have changed, but it would still be interesting to see how they do in captivity in wild-like circumstances. New Zealand’s moas as well… I feel like Great Auk is the best candidate for still having its habitat similar to what it used to be.

The other aspect I’m unsure about is the genetics. My impression is that the strategy is to create a genome as complete as possible by patching together what we can get from available specimens, and then figure out which genes are important for making the extinct animal. Then take the whole genome of the closest related still living species (e.g. Band-tailed Pigeon or Indian Elephant) and just change those important genes to what they’d be in the extinct species. But genomes are so complicated and interrelated and our understanding of them is so limited that I can’t imagine how we’d successfully recreate an extinct species and not just a messed up version of the extant species with that strategy. How do you figure out what the important genes are?

Also it seems like the progress on trying to clone pigeons isn’t going great, because of their eggs cloning birds is a more complicated than mammals and they’re still trying to figure out how to actually do it.


Colossal is a new group I hadn’t heard of before. The only group I knew of before this that was working on de-extinction is Revive & Restore.


Exactly. The Siberian tundra has changed a lot since the ice age, 10,000 years ago.


Well, I believe that there are multiple problems to this plan.

  1. What will happen to current species that are already endangered such as many marsupials in tasmania if you brought back a predator such as the tasman tiger? Or mammoths and native flora up in the northern hemisphere in places like siberia? Would creatures such as mammoths have enough foods to supply them?
  2. Is it ethical? Not really if you think about it. Dolly the sheep who had lung problems, which some say came from the cloning, and was euthanized. Or pyrenean ibex clone who also died. Also its kinda weird how they do it.
  3. Resources. How much money, time, and other resources would it take to create a healthy, stable breeding population? Those resources could be used for other scientific projects like conservation, new nature park, wildlife rehabs, and sites like Inaturalist. On the other scientific side of this, those resources could be used for better technology and medicine that could cure sickness such as cancer.
  4. Is it even possible? Dolly the sheep experiment did work I guess you could say but the ibex experiment didn’t but who really knows if you can create breeding populations from extinct animals.

What are the positives? There are only two.

  1. Could it stabilize the ecosystem? Some people say that this would stabilize the climate and fuel an ecosystem.
  2. For peoples enjoyment. For observers who would get great joy from seeing an alive mammoth (I know I would) and the scientists would receive alot of fame and recognition.

But other than this there are no positives.
I personally don’t support the idea. I have been researching this for about 4 years now and haven’t found enough to support the creation of these clones.
Anyways that was my two cents worth. Lol!


We can conclude that there are more negative than positive things… I agree with everything you say…


Some scientists favor de-extinction. More think it’s a bad idea and/or impossible. At this point, it looks like at best you’d get one individual or a tiny population. Not a good idea, in my opinion.


Here’s my take on the whole matter. It’s hard know if it would have a positive or a negative effect until it’s done. BUT DON"T BRING BACK THE MEGAFAUNA!!!
It frustrates me to no end how so much of the research and hype of deextinction is given to the Woolly mammoth among other ice-age creatures. There is no space for them left on this planet, and they haven’t been on the planet for ages meaning their resurrection would cause untold damage.

IMO they should only try de-extinction with subspecies, like the Dusky Seaside Sparrow. While I’d love to see Passenger pigeons once again cover the sky, the only way to really bring back a species is through cloning (though this would mean that their tiny gene pool would make them functionally extinct once again, making the whole thing useless anyways). This also means that the only extinct species eligible would be ones we have the preserved cell of.
Scientists have also tried many other methods to bring species back like “breeding back” and genome editing, but the issue with both of these is that the end product would still not be the authentic species, it would be some weird lab creation that could never survive in the wild that now competes with other actual species. It’s basically the Ship of Theseus paradox.

Also not to mention the countless species going extinct right now that this research money could be going to protecting.

TLDR: I think it should be tried with extinct subspecies, but nothing else.