Plenty of animals have gone extinct in Earth’s lifetime. Even without the intervention of humans, many plants and animals have been subjected to mass extinction; eliminating their presence from our planet. Whether the reason for their demise was natural or unnatural, we have never been able to witness these creatures roaming around us. Thanks to the development in science and technology, we might not need to wait long. Within the past two decades, the world of science has exploded with never ending capabilities. The first cloning took place on July 5, 1996, using the process of nuclear transfer. Today, scientists have developed several new techniques where they can successfully use methods such as cloning, DNA splicing, etc., to essentially resurrect these animals from the grave. This article lists 10 extinct animals that scientists can, and should, bring back from the dead.
1. Woolly Mammoth
One of the most popular candidates for resurrection, and for good reason, is the Woolly Mammoth. Scientists have chosen this particular species of extinct animal since it has the best chance of producing the expected outcome.
One of the most popular candidates for resurrection went extinct about 200,000 years ago. These giants went extinct during the ice age and in a region that’s still pretty frozen to this day (modern-day Siberia). This means that archeologists are capable of excavating the specimens which are still intact, since they were preserved well.
A Tokyo based research team announced that within the next five years or so, they will be capable of creating a living, breathing Woolly Mammoth. The scientists plan to clone a mammoth by the normal method; which is to extract the cell nuclei and insert it into an embryo from another species. The embryo will then be implanted into a surrogate mother. Although the technique sounds promising, one question still remains! Will the resurrected species be able to survive in the wild again? (source 1, 2)
2. Gastric Brooding Frogs
The Gastric Brooding Frog is an amphibian that gives birth through its mouth. The unique species of frog is native to Queensland in eastern Australia.
The female, upon fertilization of eggs, swallows them and incubates them in her stomach for around six weeks. Although anything that goes into the stomach is naturally digested, the eggs release special chemicals while in the stomach; stopping the stomach from producing acids. Throughout the six week period, the eggs hatch inside her and develop fully. As the tadpoles grow, they occupy almost all of her body, causing her lungs to fail and forcing her to breathe through her skin. At the end of the developing period, she vomits out the fully formed frog babies.
This species of frog went extinct in 1983 but researchers in Australia brought it back using cloning process. (source)
3. Saber-Toothed Cat
Smilodon fatalis or Saber-Toothed Cats were lion-size ambush predators. Their long canine teeth helped them grab prey by the neck and kill it within a minute.
The predator had thick, strong front legs and was scimitar-toothed; which were circular in cross-section. Scientists believe that in order to eliminate the risk of fracturing their long fang-like teeth, the predator immobilized its dinner first, using those forelimbs. By the end of the Pleistocene Epoch, some 11,000 years ago, these fierce predators went extinct. Today, archeologists have been able to successfully uncover more than 130,000 Smilodon bones; which represent at least 2000 individual animals. With advances in molecular biology and cloning, Japanese researchers are hoping to bring back the extinct species. (source)
4. Thylacine a.k.a Tasmanian Tiger
The Thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger, was officially declared extinct in 1986. Humans hunted them down during the 1800’s since they were becoming a problem for sheep farmers.
During the 1800’s, the Tasmanian government offered to pay £1 for every Tasmanian tiger killed. People started hunting them day and night; eventually leading to their extinction. The last known Thylacine died in 1936, but several of them were spotted roaming the jungles until 1986.
In 1918, the Museum Victoria in Melbourne decided to preserve several dead thylacines in tubs of alcohol. With the samples saved from almost a century ago, two researchers from the University of Melbourne utilized them in order to revive the extinct species. By 2008, they were successfully able to patch the thylacine genome into a mouse embryo. (source)
5. Irish Elk
The Irish elk was another megafauna to fall victim to the ending of an ice age. Recent studies on the species, as well as DNA analysis, show that it was actually a deer – in fact, the largest deer to have ever lived.
Believed to have grown to a height of two meters (about seven feet) with 4.2-meter (14 ft) antlers, the animal lived in the icy north during the Pleistocene. Global warming has resulted in the melting of permafrost; uncovering some of the most well preserved specimens of the Irish Elk. This makes the Irish Elk a prime candidate for the process of cloning.
Researchers at University College London are mapping the DNA from a 13,000-year-old Irish Elk fossil. They hope to bring the extinct species back to life one day. They hope to bring back the extinct species back to life one day. (source)
6. Ground Sloth
The ancient creature was in fact a giant bear. The elephantine animals were ground sloths and have become a prime candidate for de-extinction; since they have recently gone extinct.
Just looking at the recovered fossil alone makes you think twice about reviving this extinct species. These giants were ground sloths; closely related to the modern-day three-toed sloth. Scientists estimate that the creature roamed Earth as recently as 8,000 years ago. Since some of the recovered fossils contained hair, scientists were able to extract DNA samples from them. Although the news of DNA extraction is big in the field of science, there still exists problems when it comes to cloning them. Scientists are working to tackle the obstacles and develop a fetus in an artificial womb; thus de-extincting the species. (source)
Although the Neanderthals do not classify as animals, our ancient hominid cousins are among the list of species that scientists hope to revive. The decision has been subjected to controversy but scientists believe that the extinct species is eligible for cloning and resurrection.
Neanderthals are widely considered a subspecies of modern humans. According to leading experts, in the not-so-distant future, advances in genetic engineering might enable that feat. With the help of a process known as nuclear transfer, a surrogate will give birth to a clone. The real question is, whether such a resurrection should happen. (source)
8. Passenger Pigeon
In the 1800’s, passenger pigeons were abundant and found all across the Eastern and Central United States. Many found them to taste good and started hunting them. Because of their abundance (a single flock could number in the millions), and because they were easy to hunt, they became extinct.
By the 1900’s, the passenger pigeon’s population declined to such a rate that there weren’t enough to maintain a sustainable population. The University of California is partaking in a project to revive the species, using DNA from Martha (the last pigeon to die in 1914). Many passenger pigeons have been well preserved in museums, which means that there is a considerable amount of DNA for scientists to work with. (source)
9. Woolly Rhinoceros
The extinct species of rhinoceros was common throughout Europe and northern Asia during the Pleistocene epoch. Woolly rhinoceros even managed to survive the last glacial period.
The massive hairy creature also stomped through the Arctic snow; as recently as 10,000 years ago. Many ancient cave arts discovered by archeologists contained paintings of them. One of the most famous caves, the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in France, contains art representing the Woolly rhinoceros. Scientists believe them to be a good candidate for resurrection because of a recent discovery. A well-preserved specimen was discovered in Arctic permafrost, providing them with the necessary DNA for de-extinction of the species. (source)
10. Pyrenean Ibex
The Pyrenean Ibex officially became extinct in January of 2000. The wild mountain goat, the last-known animal of its kind, was found dead in northern Spain.
Scientists collected DNA and skin samples of the goat, shortly before its death. With the help of liquid nitrogen, they then preserved it in hopes of bringing the extinct species back to life. Recently, scientists successfully cloned the species; but the joy didn’t last no longer than 7 minutes. The cloned fetus contained reanimated DNA from the last known living Pyrenean Ibex, which was implanted in the womb of a living domestic goat. Seven minutes after its birth, the Ibex suffered lung difficulties and succumbed to it; thus becoming the first extinct animal to ever become un-extinct. (source)