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  • Should we clone extinct animals?

    By Jack Ashby, on 8 December 2011

    Gone for Good display…is the latest question we are asking on our iPad displays. So far many living species have been cloned, for various reasons (just to see if we can and replacing lost pets being two of them. Resurrecting extinct species in this way has also been attempted, with very limited success. The question is, are they gone for good?

    The technology may soon exist to clone recently extinct animals using DNA from museum specimens, but usable and complete DNA sequences are hard to find. Should we try and bring back animals that humans have driven to extinction? What would you do with a handful of cloned individuals? Would the money be better spent on animals we still have?

    And the objects are labelled like this:

    CLONED SPECIES
    Many living species have been cloned from across the animal kingdom, including those seen here. Similar techniques could clone extinct species.

    CARP
    The first carp was cloned in China in 1963. Clones have been produced by inserting nuclei from one species into cells of another.

    DOMESTIC CAT
    In 2004 “Little Nicky” was the first commercially cloned cat, produced for $50,000 after the original pet “Nicky” died.

    BACK FROM EXTINCTION
    Using a goat as a host, a Pyrenean ibex was the first species to be brought back from extinction. It died after seven minutes.

    THYLACINE
    Cells were extracted from the specimen in Case 21 in a failed attempt to clone this extinct marsupial carnivore.

    CRESCENT NAILTAIL WALLABY
    Should specimens like this be used to resurrect extinct species? It died out in the 1960s – should it be reintroduced?

    MAMMOTH
    Whole frozen mammoths have been found in Siberia. Should they be cloned back into existence? Where would they live? Would they be anything more than a freak-show?

    What do you think? Should we be cloning extinct species? Get involved in the conversation on the QRator website or by visiting the Museum and commenting on the iPads.

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