Perhaps the most widely known animal extinction is the famous Dodo Bird. According to Brittanica, the dodo became extinct after European settlers disrupted its native Mauritius. Extinction, as defined by National Geographic, is “the complete disappearance of a species from Earth.” However, as reported by US News, new technological innovations hope to reverse extinction and bring back the dodo bird.
According to the article, a tech startup Colossal Biosciences hopes to use gene editing technology to bring back extinct species, such as the dodo bird. According to MedlinePlus, “genome editing (also called gene editing) is a group of technologies that give scientists the ability to change an organism’s DNA.” According to Beth Shapiro, A biologist at the company stated that the company intends to edit the genes of the non-extinct Nicobar Pigeon, a close relative of the dodo, to recreate the dodo, hundreds of years after its extinction.
Despite these promising advancements, because researchers intend to use the genes of a different species, and the conditions on the island are not the same as they are today, it will be nearly impossible to revive the dodo bird exactly. For example, as reported by US News, Shapiro stated “it’s not possible to recreate a 100% identical copy of something that’s gone.”
While these advancements are exciting, as US News stated, there could be significant drawbacks to bringing back extinct speeches. As stated by ecologist Stuart Pimm of Duke University “There’s a real hazard in saying that if we destroy nature, we can just put it back together again – because we can’t.” As stated earlier, it was colonists and mistreatment of the environment that caused the extinction of the dodo bird in the 1600s, so perhaps, as reported by US News and stated by Boris Worm of the Univerity of Dahlhousie in Halifax, Nova Scotia “Preventing species from going extinct in the first place should be our priority.” Perhaps we can achieve this goal by taking better care of the environment, for according to Columbia Climate School, “The main modern causes of extinction are the loss and degradation of habitat (mainly deforestation), over exploitation, (hunting, overfishing), invasive species, climate change, and nitrogen pollution. Many of these ideas connect to what we have studied in biology class, such as the effects of genes. According to Brittanica, Gene editing technology uses enzymes to influence genetic sequences; these enzymes are called Restriction Enzymes. Additionally, according to the University of Illinois, “Restriction enzymes are essential tools for recombinant DNA technology.” As we learned in the Mitosis/Meiosis, and cellular respiration unit, recombinants are the chromosomes that occur when chromosomes “cross over” during Prophase I of meiosis, essentially creating a blend of different traits. This phenomenon is similar to what occurs in gene editing technology, where enzymes snip DNA, adding different traits, to create a sort of “mix” of traits.
Therefore, while these new technologies in gene editing are exciting, we shouldn’t be 100% convinced of their effectiveness, and we should continuously question the ethics of such practices.
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