“TechKnow” visited San Diego Zoo Safari Park to get a first-hand look the “Frozen Zoo” there and dove into the world of genetic preservation and rescue. On the surface, the methods used by scientists sounded a little like a Steven Spielberg movie. “TechKnow” contributor Shini Somara even said so.
In “Jurassic Park,” bioengineers and geneticists had just made a major breakthrough in de-extinction, allowing them create and nurture dinosaurs in the modern age.
The reality is that while the Frozen Zoo may sound like something out of a major motion picture, the science isn’t actually as simple as digging up fossilized mosquitoes.
However, there are alternative hopes for this research.
Opponents of genetic rescue, de-extinction, and genome editing argue on the side of nature, claiming certain species die out for a reason. Dr. Beth Shapiro, an evolutionary biologist at University of California Santa Cruz, contends that the act of saving one species can have a much more important impact in the larger ecosystem.
"In the case where something is very recently extinct or on the verge of extinction, it might be that the niche is still vacant," said Shapiro. "By filling that vacated niche, we might stabilize the community, and in doing so, actually save other species that might have gone extinct if that niche had been left vacant."
Scientists may never bring back dinosaurs, but saving modern species from extinction is still possible.
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