Harvard geneticist George Church announced earlier this year that creating a mammoth-elephant hybrid fetus could be possible in the next few years. I’ll admit, this prospect is extremely interesting, taking an animal that hasn’t been alive for thousands of years and magically bringing their species back to life. It would be amazing to bring back all kinds of species like mammoths and the dodo.
Maybe they could even bring back the dire wolf so you could live out your Game of Thrones Fantasy. While this concept sounds great, it’s actually a terrible idea. It would take a lot of time to bring a species back from extinction because of the fact that they, like the mammoth example above, have to be developed from existing species with similar genes. They can’t just be created from scratch because they have to be carried to term by a host species, such as the elephant that will hold the mammoth hybrid fetus. On top of that, scientists couldn’t just create two animals. They would have to develop enough for a healthy population to ensure that there can be mating without the rink of inbreeding. The costs to bring a species back from extinction is not known exactly because it has yet to happen, but it is guaranteed to be an exorbitant amount. If the government had to pay for this there is a strong chance that it could cut into the budget for conservation of other animals. This focus on bringing species back from the dead will distract people from the species that are dying off currently. Another worrying aspect of de-extinction is that, with the ability to bring species back, people won’t care as much about hunting animals to extinction because they think they can just bring it back later when in reality they animals that they bring back will just be hybrids. While it would be great to have all of these species back, it wouldn’t be the same as when they originally walked the earth which is why efforts should be focused on protecting animals from extinction as opposed to bringing them back.