Pliocene park

Xue Sheng

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I was reading an article this morning in a local paper similar to this “Regenerating a Mammoth”

And in the paper I was reading it talked about the possibility of regenerating a Mammoth, regenerating a Mastodon and regenerating a Smilodon.

And I will admit I do think it would be pretty cool to see a real live Mammoth or Mastodon or Smilodon (Saber toothed tiger). But the article I read said something like a real Jurassic park. And I began to think. Would Regenerating anything form the past be a good idea? If you regenerate a Mammoth what happens if they are left to roam free, how would that affect the ecosystem or other animals in the areas it would populate. What if you Regenerating a Saber toothed tiger and it was out roaming free what impact would a cat that might be an Uber-predator by today’s standards have on the indigenous species of anyplace it decided to live? Of course regenerate only one and likely it remains in captivity so I guess this is more of a what if thing.

I realize this is not necessarily ever going to happen and I am not sitting here in fear thinking of facing off with a Smilodon anytime soon, actually this is more of a philosophical view I guess. Or it cold be I am overly philosophical in my thinking today or it could be I am just overly silly in my thinking today, either way maybe it’s just me.

But I wonder if science could do things like this should science do it just because they can?

Thoughts
 

elder999

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I was reading an article this morning in a local paper similar to this “Regenerating a Mammoth”

And in the paper I was reading it talked about the possibility of regenerating a Mammoth, regenerating a Mastodon and regenerating a Smilodon.

And I will admit I do think it would be pretty cool to see a real live Mammoth or Mastodon or Smilodon (Saber toothed tiger). But the article I read said something like a real Jurassic park. And I began to think. Would Regenerating anything form the past be a good idea? If you regenerate a Mammoth what happens if they are left to roam free, how would that affect the ecosystem or other animals in the areas it would populate. What if you Regenerating a Saber toothed tiger and it was out roaming free what impact would a cat that might be an Uber-predator by today’s standards have on the indigenous species of anyplace it decided to live? Of course regenerate only one and likely it remains in captivity so I guess this is more of a what if thing.

I realize this is not necessarily ever going to happen and I am not sitting here in fear thinking of facing off with a Smilodon anytime soon, actually this is more of a philosophical view I guess. Or it cold be I am overly philosophical in my thinking today or it could be I am just overly silly in my thinking today, either way maybe it’s just me.

But I wonder if science could do things like this should science do it just because they can?

Thoughts


The thing that really troubles me is what comes with the mammoth?

Some form of flu that we have no defenses for, or no longer have defenses for, perhaps?
 

Sukerkin

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That's an interesting point that cuts both ways across the 'temporal rift', actually. It could be a case of a 'War of the Worlds' like lack of defences for a re-created extinct creature from so long ago.

The bacteria and viruses have moved on a long way in mutating to cirumvent defences and we have moved with them to cope. A Smilodon might have big teeth but 21st century 'Cat Flu' might be the end of it.
 

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But I wonder if science could do things like this should science do it just because they can?

A worthy general question, although I don't think it is too worrisome in this case. Generally, those species went extinct for a reason. A mastodon could not survive with the high temperatures we have now. Almost no dinosaur could live with the thinner atmosphere and colder temperatures we have now, etc. That said, introducing new species is always a risk. They usually die off, but they could have a bad ecological effect. Just look at Australia. Between mice, domestic cats and bullfrogs, the native fauna is in major peril. The default decision should always be not to introduce new species, which argues for these animals being kept in captivity as a curiousity.

As to the larger question, we just have to use our best judgment. Weigh the foreseeable benefits and detriments. This should be done rationally though. We don't need to worry too much about highly unlikely events, or even scientific nonsense like the paranoia over the Large Hadron Collider. Doing so just retards progress for no good reason.
 

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Some form of flu that we have no defenses for, or no longer have defenses for, perhaps?

While viruses will almost certainly be present in the mammoth genome, the chances of them affecting any other animal are very small. Viruses are highly species specific. Bacteria and parasites are not, but they would not be regenerated with this technique.
 

MA-Caver

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Michael Crichton covered this pretty well and in detail in his novels (the movies only scratched the surface)...
There are moral implications involved (stop shaking your heads because it's true)... as Malcom said... "you didn't stop to ask yourself whether or not if you SHOULD!"
As previously stated... these animals went extinct for a reason... it was so that evolution and the natural order of things (set down by the creator) would move in the direction intended.
It would be nice to see these animals alive and up close... but only in an controlled environment/exhibit and not allowed to roam free and mingle with other species... the possibility of inbreeding is too great of a risk and yes, diseases (which could be neutralized in the lab prior to conception) are a risk.
We still don't understand everything about how things work on a genetic level.
Say for example we do have a mammoth cloned (traditionally as we --layfolk-- understand it) using a female african elephant as the surrogate, and that mammoth does all well fine and good but then it contracts a strain of flu or other disease... it's body might change it/mutate it because the genetic code of the animal is different (due to environmental differences between now and when the Mammoth actually walked the planet)... it might not get sick but it could be host to something that could be passed on to it's handlers and voilia something for the CDC to scramble after trying to find a cure for.

But of course who are we to argue with well meaning/intentioned scientists trying to play God??
 
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Xue Sheng

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Interesting points I had not thought of. It reminded me of the attempt to reintroduce the Lynx to the Adirondacks. None survived, to many cars and people now.

I also had not though of the atmospheric differences. There is less O2 now than during the age of the Big Dinos, is that the same for the Pliocene as compared to today? It would make since that is was but I am far from certain on that one.

Basically a Mammoth and a Mastodon need colder climates, or at least that is my understanding. But the Smilodon appears to have had a much further range but again I cannot say that with 100% certainty.

And these animals did go extinct for a reason and one of the possible reasons that have been discussed, at least in the case of the mammoth, is over hunting my man.

And although I doubt they will produce any Smilodon and if they do certainly not enough to breed, it would, at least to me, be quite a dangerous thing to allow to just pop back into existence and set free upon... well anywhere.

As Empty hands said "look at Australia" and you could through in Florida as well and get a good idea of what non-indigenousness animals (and plants) can do.

Michael Crichton covered this pretty well and in detail in his novels (the movies only scratched the surface)...

There are moral implications involved (stop shaking your heads because it's true)... as Malcom said... "you didn't stop to ask yourself whether or not if you SHOULD!"

As previously stated... these animals went extinct for a reason... it was so that evolution and the natural order of things (set down by the creator) would move in the direction intended.

It would be nice to see these animals alive and up close... but only in an controlled environment/exhibit and not allowed to roam free and mingle with other species... the possibility of inbreeding is too great of a risk and yes, diseases (which could be neutralized in the lab prior to conception) are a risk.

We still don't understand everything about how things work on a genetic level.

Say for example we do have a mammoth cloned (traditionally as we --layfolk-- understand it) using a female african elephant as the surrogate, and that mammoth does all well fine and good but then it contracts a strain of flu or other disease... it's body might change it/mutate it because the genetic code of the animal is different (due to environmental differences between now and when the Mammoth actually walked the planet)... it might not get sick but it could be host to something that could be passed on to it's handlers and voilia something for the CDC to scramble after trying to find a cure for.



But of course who are we to argue with well meaning/intentioned scientists trying to play God??


Well at least the flu shot would have a cool name like "MAMMOTH FLU" or "SABBER TOOTH FLU" instead of Swine or bird :D

That is an interesting thought. Is it possible for it to catch something like a modern flu and mutate it?
 

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IMO, we shouldn't dismiss this out of turn. At least, not until we've answered one very important question: what do they taste like? We could be missing out on something that is like prime rib x 100. Do you want to risk it? I don't.

Plus, we don't have to worry about hunting them to extinction. We can just make more. They'd be on borrowed time anyway.
 
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Xue Sheng

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IMO, we shouldn't dismiss this out of turn. At least, not until we've answered one very important question: what do they taste like? We could be missing out on something that is like prime rib x 100. Do you want to risk it? I don't.

Plus, we don't have to worry about hunting them to extinction. We can just make more. They'd be on borrowed time anyway.

We also need to worry, in the case of the Smilodon...what WE taste like :uhoh:
 

elder999

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IMO, we shouldn't dismiss this out of turn. At least, not until we've answered one very important question: what do they taste like? We could be missing out on something that is like prime rib x 100. Do you want to risk it? I don't.

Plus, we don't have to worry about hunting them to extinction. We can just make more. They'd be on borrowed time anyway.


Well, since we probably helped make them extinct-at least, on the North American continent-I'm pretty sure they're yummy.
 

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Nope. Ain't no continent big enough. Maybe we *think* we can contain and control these animals but ... what if we can't?
 

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it's a 500 pound CAT and america is FILLED with rednecks who own guns.

the smilodons wouldnt last a week
 

elder999

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it's a 500 pound CAT and america is FILLED with rednecks who own guns.

the smilodons wouldnt last a week


Smilodon populator, the one that existed up until about 10,000 B.C., weighed up to 800lbs.

No matter, we probably helped them become extinct, with nothing more than pointy sticks....:lfao:
 

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As previously stated... these animals went extinct for a reason... it was so that evolution and the natural order of things (set down by the creator) would move in the direction intended.

I know you and I disagree on the creator aspect, but these two concepts are contradictory. The scientific process of evolution due to natural selection is not compatible with a "natural order of things" set down by a Creator. Evolution is random, not directed. When I said "for a reason", that reason was facts of natural history, not a Creator.

Besides, if the Creator is omniscient and everything is going according to his plan, then bringing back these animals will be all part of the plan. Thus we should do it. ;)

...and yes, diseases (which could be neutralized in the lab prior to conception) are a risk.

As I said in another post, the risk would be very, very small. Only viruses could be brought back with this technique, and viruses are highly species specific.

...it's body might change it/mutate it because the genetic code of the animal is different.

No, it doesn't work this way. Viruses are not mutated by their hosts, their DNA is subject to random mutation and natural selection just like ours is. Viruses are just another organism, albeit extremely specialized parasites.

But of course who are we to argue with well meaning/intentioned scientists trying to play God??

I assure you, no scientist I know, including myself, is interested in "playing God." Especially since most of us don't believe in it. The motivation is almost entirely curiosity and passion for learning about the natural world. That can have bad consequences sometimes, but not for reasons of wanting to be a deity.

If you want to see a profession interested in playing God, look to the surgeons. ;)
 

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That is an interesting thought. Is it possible for it to catch something like a modern flu and mutate it?

Nope. It is highly unlikely that any modern virus could infect these animals. If they could however, the chances of viral mutation are the same as in any other organism. I am just as much of a danger of breeding the next Super Flu than a resurrected mammoth. Actually, I'm far more of a danger, since the mammoth almost certainly couldn't get infected.
 

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We have already created giant tiger/lion breeds. Look at the Liger!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liger

http://search.live.com/video/results.aspx?q=liger&docid=76241633409&FORM=TVVR2

We will continue to play around with genetic cloning, mutation, etc. I to worry about strains of viruses, etc. That is a serious fear!
icon6.gif
 

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EH, could you elaborate on that last post a little? Why would a modern virus not be a danger to a re-invented ancient creature? Is it because the viruses target 'available' hosts and so will have changed to match what is around now rather than what used to be around?
 

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EH, could you elaborate on that last post a little? Why would a modern virus not be a danger to a re-invented ancient creature? Is it because the viruses target 'available' hosts and so will have changed to match what is around now rather than what used to be around?

Exactly. The viruses are so specific, relying on highly matched protein structures in order to infect cells. That is why cross-species viruses are so extremely rare. Modern viruses have continued to evolve since those mammoths went extinct, and in all likelihood, cannot target them anymore. The mammoth viruses probably all died with them. The only viruses that might be trouble for the mammoth are any embedded in the genetic code that would be cloned into the new baby mammoth. That isn't as much trouble as it sounds though, as all of us have a multitude of viral sequences embedded in our genomes that are never activated. Indeed, evolution has made use of these sequences, and some viral type sequences are evident in our genome and have new uses in our genes.
 

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I actually have a feeling this would fail miserably for other reasons. We have trouble enough keeping some modern species in captivity without them dying, not procreating, etc. With these prehistoric creatures, we'd know even less about their diet, habitats, mating habits, etc. It's an interesting idea but I have a feeling we'd have to go through many rounds of clones before they had any degree of success.
 

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