Brave New Old World?: With DNA Extraction Technologies, Neanderthals and Mammoths Could Roam the Earth Again

So says the NY Times today.

Money quote:

[DNA extraction] technology could be applied to any other extinct species from which one can obtain hair, horn, hooves, fur or feathers, and which went extinct within the last 60,000 years. Though the stuffed animals in natural history museums are not likely to burst into life again, these old collections are full of items that may contain ancient DNA which can be decoded by the new generation of DNA sequencing machines.

If the genome of an extinct species can be reconstructed, biologists can work out the exact DNA differences with the genome of its nearest living relative. There are now discussions of how to modify the DNA in an elephant’s egg so that after each round of changes it would progressively resemble the DNA in a mammoth egg. The final stage egg could then be brought to term in an elephant mother, and mammoths might once again roam the Siberian steppes. The same would be technically possible with Neanderthals, whose full genome is expected to be recovered shortly, but there would be several ethical issues in modifying modern human DNA to that of another human species.

Estimated cost to recover a mammoth via this technology?

Perhaps just 10 million dollars.

O brave new world that hath such old world recovery technologies in it!

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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1 Response to Brave New Old World?: With DNA Extraction Technologies, Neanderthals and Mammoths Could Roam the Earth Again

  1. Jason says:

    Estimated cost of recovering a mammoth: 10 million dollars.
    Estimated value of new mammoth population’s worth of tusks: 20 billion dollars.
    Watching humans recreate another species just to drive them to extinction: Priceless.
    That would be interesting…didn’t Michael Crichton write some book or two or three about this?
    Oh when science fiction ceases to be futuristic!

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