The Dawn of De-Extinction

December 10, 2021

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Nowadays, scientists have technologies that may bring back species that disappeared long ago. They use the animals’ DNA to bring them back to life, but the substantially old DNA cannot be used for the recovery. Thus, dinosaurs cannot be returned to life as their DNA is too old, and they are considered totally extinct, both bodily and genetically. Today, this procedure can be successful, and the cloned animal will not die within few minutes after its birth. Nevertheless, scientists have faced new problems, and one of them is why they should spend enormous sums of money to return the extinct animals to life; whether it is really necessary. The answer is clear and obvious, and the reason is to preserve the biodiversity, undo harm that humans have caused in the past and restore the diminished ecosystem.

The Dawn of De-Extinction


Throughout the whole human history, people have been driving species by species to their extinction. Scientists take measures to prevent the rapid extinction of some species, but unfortunately, the results are not as good as they might be. The prevention of the absolute extinction of a particular species is possible in case this species will be under the strict control of scientists. In this way, they try to prevent the depopulation of rare species of animals and save their existence in the wild nature. Nevertheless, these attempts are only temporal measures as it is impossible to control the viability of every extinct species on the planet (Brand, 2013). However, the issue that was raised by scientists during the last decade did not concern species, which are on the verge of extinction, but those, which vanished many years ago or even centuries and millions of years ago.

The recovered animals may give answers to scientists on many questions such as why this species disappeared, what made it vulnerable, how they were different from the similar species that have survived. The received information may help scientists to estimate the reasons of the species extinction, what factors played a crucial role in it and take measures to prevent the similar situation in the future. Moreover, species with genetic weaknesses can be cured by introducing them via cloning. For example, Tasmanian devils have the transmissible cancer on the faces, which is caused by a single gene. Scientists can silence this gene, and a new generation will have the immunity to the cancer. They will not transmit the illness in the wild, and soon it will disappear because the entire population will be immune shortly.

Some extinct species were highly significant in the ecosystem of the environment; they were the keystone of a particular region. Their restoring will help to restore the ecological diversity to a considerable degree. For instant, woolly mammoths were the dominant herbivore in the mammoth steppe. They helped in sustaining grasslands, and when mammoths vanished, it was replaced by the boreal forest and species-poor tundra. If scientist return mammoths back to life, their presence will bring back carbon-fixing grass and low down the effect of greenhouse gas in tundra (“Bringing extinct species back to life,” 2013). Another example is European aurochs that vanished in 1627; these animals helped to keep forests in Europe and Asia with biodiverse meadows and grasslands. Such extinct species as passenger pigeon was the most widespread species from Mississippi to the Atlantic ocean. These animals were placed on flagships and were the symbol of inspiration to protect the wild nature.

Children will face the returning of some remarkable species, and it may change their attitude and perception of the natural world. Children will ask their parents to go to the zoo to see a mammoth, passenger pigeon or ivory-billed woodpecker. However, besides the advantages of this new invention, there are issues that cannot be left without attention, and one of them is the ethical aspect. Scientists divided into two camps, one part of which considers that returning of the extinction species to life has numerous benefits and it is really necessary, while another part wonders whether they have a right to play God. Indeed, it is very controversial question because, on the one hand, scientists may help to stop or reduce the depopulation of some rare species, but on the other hand, they interfere in the natural process of evolution, in terms of which only the strongest survive. However, one can argue, because some of the extinct species, such as passenger pigeon or Tasmanian tiger, did not vanish because of natural reasons, but because of human activities. In this case, it is quite natural that human tries to replace the damage that was caused to nature.

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This year, the Scientific American has published an essay, which states that the reanimation of woolly mammoths to life is a bad idea (“Bringing extinct species back to life,” 2013). This situation requires a deep discussion, and scientists should not take rapid actions. The ecosystem has a strong dependence on keystone species, and there is a belief that the extinct species are able to return the equilibrium in planet ecosystem. Global warming and greenhouse gases can be reduced if scientists return mammoths back to life; it sounds unbelievable, but these animals can seriously influence these processes. Scientists explain that tundras of Russia and Canada were richer in grass and much colder 4000 years ago. Nowadays, they melt, and if the process will not be stopped, the amount of greenhouse gases will continue to grow. However, only few changes in elephants’ genomes can make a difference; if a modern elephant will be given the subcutaneous fat, sebaceous glands and woolly hair, then it will be an approximate variation of a mammoth. The returning of this species to tundra may reduce the process of global warming.

According to the following facts, mammoths are able to keep the region colder:

– they eat dead grass, and in this way, they enable the sun to reach new grass, roots of which prevent erosion;

– they fell trees, which absorb the sunlight;

– they punch snow; thus, the air penetrates the soil.

These animals can change the situation in the world and reduce the effect of global warming on the planet.

De-extinction is a new and breakthrough invention in the modern science. It can change the view of science radically, but despite numerous advantages, there are always some disadvantages that should be analyzed, as well.

According to the scientists’ theories, de-extinction is a crucial and necessary step in the planet life. During the whole history of the mankind existence, people exterminated one species after another. Such behavior cannot be viewed as a necessary means for surviving; in the majority of cases, people killed animals because of their furs, skins, horns, ivories or delicious meat. Thus, their extinction was caused by human activities, not the natural process. Today, scientists have an opportunity to put right the wrongs and turn some species back to life (Roast, 2013). However, the true reason does not lie in the human guilt, but in a hypothesis that the returning of keystone species may positively change the equilibrium in nature. Scientists give numerous facts, which prove that the extinction of a particular species had a crucial effect on the entire ecosystem and, as a result, on human.

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However, some scientists seriously doubt the possibility of bringing back the extinct animals. Professor Adrian Lister, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London, does not believe in this method. He says that it is impossible to create a new life by using a DNA cell, which is millions of years old. Professor Adrian Lister says that DNA of such animal as mammoth is seriously damaged, and scientists have only some fragments of it; thus, they are not able to bring back to life an animal if they do not have a normal example of its DNA. Nevertheless, scientists find the solution for this problem. They will take fragments of the mammoth’s DNA and try to connect it with the nearest relative of mammoth, an Asian elephant. Thus, the DNA of an Asian elephant will replace the absent cells of the mammoth’s DNA, and scientists will receive a similar sample of what can be called a mammoth.

However, the restoring of species that were living not so long ago may be more successful and requires fewer efforts. The last Tasmanian tiger, for example, died in 1936, and the museum has the samples of its DNA that were saved in a proper way. Professor Mike Archer, the head of the paleontology research group at the University in Australia, hopes it will be possible. However, he does not believe that such species as mammoths can be returned back to life as their DNA is irreplaceable. The San Diego Frozen Zoo contains sex cells of 1000 species; they are saved in proper conditions and could be used when it will be necessary (Roast, 2013).

Another issue that is raised by scientists concerns the ethical side of this issue. De-extinction is the creation of life in unnatural conditions, and scientists should realize that they play the role of God if they act this way. No one can say for sure to what consequences this invention may lead. The process of cloning is considered to be unethical, because it contradicts the natural way of life. Thus, scientists have different opinions regarding this issue; some believe that humanity cannot use this knowledge for creating new life or cloning. The success in this sphere may lead to new issues, like human cloning, and this is absolutely unacceptable. Other scientists have a strong desire to use this method as it will be a breakthrough in science and will open a door into a new world. The concept of extinction will disappear, and there will be no need to protect species from extinction as their population will always be under control. In such a future, people will visit zoos, where they will be able to find species that disappeared hundreds or even thousands of years ago.

Scientific Approach

To test the de-extinction theory, one may use the following step by step analysis of this issue. Any scientific approach should start with the initial observation of the theory. On this stage, it is essential to indicate the significance of the observed hypothesis and try to predict its advantages or disadvantages. The observer should ask himself or herself a question regarding the reasons to investigate a particular theory and write down what he or she has observed exactly. In the case of de-extinction, the significance of this research is obvious. This method gives an opportunity not only to return an extinct species, but also to help those species that still exist or are on the edge of extinction. The de-extinction method bases on the study of DNA cells, which scientists use to clone an animal. Scientists may find genomes, which can be the reason of cancer, and silence it. In this way, the species will be no longer targeted by this cancer as its organism will have the immunity to the cancer. Thus, the de-extinction approach can be used not only for the cloning of animals, but also for curing species, which suffer from diseases on the DNA level.

The second step predetermines the gathering of information. One should search for various sources of information concerning this issue; it may be books, scientific journals or magazines. The goal of this stage is to learn about the area of study and keep the received information. In terms of this observation, there were used the ideas and opinions of such scientists: Philosophy professor Ron Sandler, the director of Northeastern’s Ethics, Carl Zimmer, the author of 13 books, including Parasite Rex and The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution, Professor Adrian Lister, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum, Professor Mike Archer, the head of the paleontology research group at the University in Australia. All these scientists analyze the advantages and disadvantages of de-extinction, possible threats and benefits.

The next step requires indicating of the purpose of the project. On this stage, one should make a list of what he/she wants to find out. The observer should write a statement that will describe the goal of his/her analysis. The statement should also contain questions and observation. The statement of this observation can be formulated in the following manner “Does the man have a right to return animals, which died out many years ago, back to life? What threats and benefits does it bring?” To find out the answer on these questions, one should first analyze the following issues:

– What is this method needed for?

– What benefits can it bring?

– Will it have a positive or negative effect on the environment and how can it influence ecosystems?

– How will other species adopt to new life conditions?

– Is it ethically? Does the humanity have a right to play God?

When the received information is thoroughly analyzed, one should think about variables that may be involved. If one can change more than one at the same time, then it will be difficult to find what variable cases the observation. As a rule, variables are connected and work together; they usually link to the similar ideas. First of all, one should try to separate the variable that acts undependably from others. On this level, one is ready to transmit questions into hypothesis. In order to be more specific, it should be mentioned that hypothesis is a question, which was transformed in a form that can be tested by an experiment. The next step should include the answers to the questions, and it can be a list of statements that will explain how this approach works and why it is necessary.

The priorities to return old species back to life because of the intention of reducing the effect of global warming may play a crucial role in this decision. However, there will always be people, who are against such methods, even in the face of a global disaster. Thus, scientists should decide whether it is really necessary to return animals, which have died many years ago, back to life or it is just an opportunity to make a study on an extinct species. However, this method gives an opportunity not only to return an extinct species, but also to help those species that still exist or are on the edge of extinction. De-extinction method bases on the study of DNA cells, which scientists use in order to clone an animal. Scientists may find genomes, which can be a reason of cancer, and silence it. In this way, the species will be no longer targeted by this cancer as its organism has the immunity to the disease.

Consequently, one should design the experiment to test the hypothesis. An experimental procedure should contain a step-by-step list of what has been done to answer the targeted questions. When the questions will be answered, one should summarize what happens. Summarizing can be provided in any form, it may be done graphically or in a written manner as a list of statements.

Despite numerous advantages that the de-extinction method can offer, there are still disadvantages, at which some scientists cannot turn a blind eye. The most contradictory issue concerns the ethical dilemma of this study. Scientists do not find a way of returning back to life animals, they start to play a role of God, and this can be hardly accepted in positive way by many scientists and ordinary people. The similar issue was raised before, when scientists could clone sheep Dolly, and it was decided to stop developing of such procedures, because the consequences can be unpredictable. Today, scientists continue the studies in this field, but despite the process of cloning, they pay much attention to the studies of DNA cells.


To sum up, it should be said that de-extinction method is a breakthrough in the modern science, which offers many opportunities for innovations. Due to this method, scientists may receive various possibilities for the study, and they are not always connected to the de-extinction theory. No doubt that the initial goal of de-extinction is the reproduction of died out species; some of them vanished million years ago, others died out only few hundred years ago. Scientists have different targets in terms of both categories, but the common one is to return back to life species in order to vary the diversity of species in nature. The diversity of species has a crucial role in the wild nature life as it leads to balancing between different species and does not let one species devour another.

However, besides returning back to life species that have died out many years ago, scientists also concentrate their attention on the species, which still exist or are at the edge of extinction (Guynup, 2006). The analysis of DNA cells gives an opportunity to change the DNA structure or simply silence those genomes that cause different species’ chronicle diseases or even cancer. This study may help to prevent the species extinction and cure illnesses that exist for many centuries. Moreover, there is a possibility that the similar method can be used for curing human cancer cells, but currently, it is only a theory, and scientists need to do numerous tests before they receive a final answer. According to this fact, the de-extinction method can propose a lot more than a simple returning of mammoths or passenger pigeons back to life. Now, this issue can be viewed as a panacea from many diseases, because scientists can learn how to cure it on the DNA level.

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This work raises the issues concerning both negative and positive aspects of de-extinction. If scientists succeed in this theory, the issue that was raised in this work will be up-to-date and, thus, it will be carefully analyzed. The ethical side of this issue cannot be ignored; besides numerous benefits, one should remember negative effects and moral aspect. The funding of this research may deliver from the similar issues in the future, because they will certainly be raised numerous times. Thus, the significance of this issue cannot be left without attention, and its rapid deep analysis can give an answer to the main question whether a man has a right to play God, when returning the extinct species back to life.