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A person would have had to be living under a rock to not have read Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park or seen the multiple movies. This 1990 bestseller was obviously based on scientific theory, but the “de-extinction” of species is rapidly proving possible through advancing technologies. Being chased and eaten by a carnivorous dinosaur might not be part of your family vacation in the foreseeable future, if ever, but scientist believe they can revive species that have died out over the last 30,000 years—where they can recover usable DNA. The difficulties are herculean. Success is extremely rare, but imagine discovering a ton of short-faced bear digging through your trash. How about having an immense Haast’s eagle pluck your Saint Bernard out of your backyard?       

You can’t just stitch together some dead animal parts and zap it with electricity to revive a species like some Frankenstein monster. It’s done on the cellular DNA level. They take the egg from a live species similar to the extinct one—say an elephant to revive a mammoth. They wipe out the elephant egg’s DNA and replace it with the DNA of the mammoth. Then, they implant the altered egg back into the surrogate elephant mother to gestate. Besides the difficulties manipulating DNA, there’re more basic problems. It takes two to tango. You need a male and female to replicate a pure species. Another problem lies in finding usable DNA to reconstruct the genome of long-dead creatures. In the cases where it can’t be found, scientists have invented technology to create chunks of DNA that replicate physical characteristics of the extinct animal. Then, the offspring with the desired traits would have to be interbred until getting an animal similar to the extinct species.

Adversaries of this process ask: Isn’t this like playing God? Advocates answer: Aren’t we morally obligated to revive the species we’ve driven extinct? Opponents want to know: Why spend millions on dead species when there’re so many species yet to discover and protect? Supporters claim extinct species were once an important part of delicate ecosystems that they could now help restore. The revival of extinct plants could lead to medical breakthroughs in pharmaceuticals. The technology could help preserve species currently nearing extinction, and while expensive now, it could be cheaper in the future.

Suppose they’re able to revive a species. What do we do with it then? Turn it loose in the wild? Can you imagine mammoths roaming the Central Plains again? If not protected, poachers would have a field day—and they wouldn’t be shooting with cameras. Dominate predatory species replaced in an unbalanced ecosystem could drive their prey into extinction. Then, they’d all starve to death and become extinct again. But what’s the point of reviving an animal species if they’re just an oddity in a zoo? Just to see if we can do it?

Mankind has an obsessive need to achieve. I have no doubt that one day a mammoth will walk this Earth again. Then the question becomes: Will scientists stop with just the revival of extinct species? If they can manipulate DNA between similar species, how far away are they from creating a man with an ape’s strength? A chimpanzee with human intelligence?

I explored a similar scenario in the Soul Cage trilogy. In it, a powerful computer and a teleportation device were used to create new creatures. This process eliminated the need for DNA manipulation by designing the creature with a computer design and creating it with an organic particle reservoir. The process fell into the wrong hands, and the results weren’t pretty.

However, in the right hands, revival technologies could lead to the end of suffering and illness, possibly immortality. To quote Napoleon Hill: “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” And the human mind’s ability to “conceive and believe” is infinite.

The de-extinction of species will happen, is happening. The question remains: Should we do it?

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