First successful reversal of extinction: Welcome back, Pyrenean ibex!

As seen on The Telegraph, by way of /.. This is not as exciting as it seems, as the ibex died after delivery. Even less exciting, it was cloned using a very similar species plus some DNA from the extinct ibex. The exciting part here is that the creature was feasible in utero, implying the technology is in the last mile to feasibility. Also exciting is the fact that it was genetically identical to the extinct creature.

I think the best thing about this is that it finally shows the world that science can possibly undo some of the damage it has itself wrought upon the world. This is not only cool from a technical viewpoint, but the fact that we are even trying expensive and difficult things like this indicates to me that there are people out there that actually care, which is a good thing to be reminded of.

Evolution is amazing at many things. Primarily, it is good for revisions. Over time, revisions can become a whole new beast, but it is always a long line of tiny changes. Increasingly we are improving on evolution by using our ability to splice and duct-tape a whole from disparate parts. While nature may find a design unfit, humans are good at finding parts of it that are useful and adapting them or learning from them. A commonly accepted extinction statistic holds that the extinctions in the fossil record equate to roughly one species per year. These animals, that were viable and alive as individuals, for whatever reason couldn’t survive as a whole. If we posit 1/year for 1/3 of the life of Terra(conservative in my admittedly not terribly informed opinion), that’s about a billion species. Even if we can only find viable DNA from .1% of those, that’s still a thousand species brought back from the grave. Imagine what we can learn from some of those species!

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