Woolly mammoths have sprung back into the news again in recent times, with news reports suggesting that they are “on a verge of resurrection” and will be back from extinction within two years. The statement was made by George Church, a lead scientist for the “Woolly Mammoth Revival” project at Harvard University.
However, in the wake of the news, many other commentators have read into the claims and they think that the reports of the mammoth’s imminent revival is fake news.
The woolly mammoth were closely related to today’s Indian elephants. They were covered in a thick coat of brown hair to keep them warm in their home of the frigid Arctic plains. They even had fur-lined ears, with curved tusks used for fighting and digging in order to survive. They were extinct almost 10,000 years ago, however some of the bodies have been preserved almost intact. They were around 13 ft tall and weighed approximately 6 tons.
As many mammoth corpses are so well preserved scientists have been able to extract DNA from the animals. The DNA could be used to clone woolly mammoths, bringing them back from extinction. Some objections are that the mammoth’s habitat isn't what it was when the creature roamed the Earth, so where would it live? George Church have used a gene-editing technique to insert the genes from the mammoth into the DNA of elephant skin cells. This is far from cloning , however, but it is a first step to manipulating the DNA found in mammoth corpses.
The woolly mammoth would not be the first species to be revived after being extinct. The world’s first de-extinct animal was born in 2003 in a laboratory in Spain. It was a type of wild mountain goat called a bucardo. Although the animal only lived for only a few minutes, the progress shown was exciting for scientists.
The world is warming, habitats are being lost, places are becoming more polluted and the biodiversity crisis is deepening. For all its worth, de-extinction is worthy of our attention because of the potential it has to help repair ailing ecosystems.
Many of the world’s species are facing extinction in present day due to a number of factors in which we contribute too. Over 60% of species in the world are now threatened with extinction. Extinction is the state and process of being completely removed; many organisms in the past have been made extinct, for example: the Mammoth, the Dodo and the West African Black Rhino most recently.
A study which included more than 30 scientists assessed the conservation of 500 individual species, which declared that 75% of the species have populations which are declining. This is an alarming figure. Extinction is caused by human factors and environmental factors, however the long term effects could be drastic, as so much of the way we live is due to animals and what they bring to us.
One of the main reasons for extinction is the rapid increase in deforestation. Forests are being cut down and habitats are being destroyed every day, being converted into industrial agriculture to benefit humans. This included the want for livestock and cattle ranching; oil and gas drilling and mining. This has left primates with nowhere to live.
Another reason for extinction to occur is due to the large amount of poverty in the third world, with a shortage of food and water caused primates to be hunted for meat and trade. An example of this is the elephant, which are regularly hunted and killed in order for their tusks, made of ivory, to be sold on the black market,
Climate change across the world is another reason causing extinction to species. Some species are unable to adapt to changing conditions, meaning they will hinder the repopulation of their species which will lead to extinction. Melting icebergs mean that many species are unable to cope with changing sea levels, which has an effect of the way that species functions in the ocean, but also alter the environments that are within the ocean.
One final cause for extinction is the amount of pollution in our air. With the growing number of industries and TNC’s around the world, many factories have been opened to cope with the growing demand. This has resulted in high levels of air pollution and smog, with many people in China having to wear a mask due to the serious health risks the air has. The animals breathe the same air as we do, so it does just as much harm to them as it does to us, meaning they find it hard to respire and reproduce, leading to extinction.
The clear message from this article is that we, as Humans, need to start respecting the Earth and species a bit more than what we are doing currently, working together in order to get the best out of each other, before it is too late.