Science is Ready to Reanimate Extinct Animals – But Are We?

Thanks to recent technological advances, fossils in museums will soon start feeding at zoos.
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Thanks to recent technological advances, fossils in museums will soon start feeding at zoos.
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In a Monday column for The Week, Josiah Neeley—a Policy Analyst for the Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation—calls for the creation of a real-life Jurassic Park, while adding, “Yes, I saw how the movie ended, but hear me out…”

On the heels of scientists announcing that they’ve collected enough genetic material to bring the wooly mammoth back from extinctionNeeley argues that, despite Ian Malcolm’s prophetic warnings against such an enterprise, we can, and should, bring back all manner of Pliocene-era players.

In fact, the chaos theory-loving kook is full of Paleolithic poop.

“Modern zoos deal with a variety of dangerous and potentially deadly animals on a daily basis,” writes Neeley. “Restoring old species would not only provide enjoyable field trips for kids, but could potentially add greatly to the store of human knowledge…”

The nonprofit “de-extinction” advocacy group, Revive and Restore, has already released a list of 24 candidate species, that still offer enough viable genetic material for a comeback. 

Per that very list (while, of course, noting that the re-introduction of hairy elephants should still be the number one priority), here are three former members of the food chain most due for an encore…

(And for all of you naysayers out there who claim this type of genetic resurrection can’t, and won’t, ever be done? It already has. Say “hello, again” to the gastric-brooding frog. Don’t bother waiting for a response. Even reanimated frogs can’t talk, goddamn it.)

Photo: Kiyoshi Ota / Corbis

The Nominee:Woolly Rhinoceros

Last Seen: 8,000 BC

Why We Should Bring Him Back: Forget about the fact that this 10-foot, battle axe of an herbivore was inspiration to contemporary cave artiststhroughout Asia and Northern Europe, and know this: the only thing better than a furry giant with tusks is a furry giant with a bigger nose than Barbra Streisand’s, and twice as piercing.

Photo: The Lighthouse / Corbis

The Nominee: The Dodo

Last Seen: Late 1600s

Why We Should Bring Him Back:Dodo has been synonymous with stupid ever since these flightless fellas let explorers to their home island of Mauritius walk right up and club them into extinction. C’mon, scientists. We owe these trusting idiots a second chance.

Photo: The Lighthouse / Corbis

The Nominee: The Tasmanian Tiger

Last Seen: 1933. Although, that’s currently up for debate.

Why We Should Bring Him Back:Its scientific name, Thylacinus cynocephalus, means pouched dog with a wolf's head - so need we say more about this marsupial magician? TTs were so equal parts odd and awesome that it would be a disservice to our own eye holes not to bring ’em back. Besides, their still-alive cousins are a bunch of A-holes.

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Photos by Universal / Everett Collection