Spot on Science: De-Extinction

[Margaret] When an animal goes extinct, it may seem like all hope is lost for its species. And it's definitely a sad day. And it's why we really need to pay attention to the animals on the endangered species list. So they don't end up gone as well. But, and it's a pretty big but, scientists are trying to bring some of these animals back to life. It's called, "de-extinction."

Let's take a look at some of the animals scientists are trying to revive, and just how they're going about it.

Once upon a time, in the Pyrenees Mountains, lived a kind of type of goat called a Bucardo or the Pyrenean Ibex. The male Bucardo had big horns that swooped up and back. While the female's were more dainty.

They fed on the grasses and plants. In the summer, they lived on top of the mountains. And in the winter, they moved to the lower ones to avoid the snow. There use to be plenty of Bucardos. But hunting and habitat loss lead to less and less of them.

In 2000, the very last Bucardo, a female named Celia, was crushed by a fallen tree. Scientists had been watching her but they wanted her to spend her life in the wild.

A year before she died, they took some samples of her DNA. Then they attempted to use it to clone her. Cloning is a way of making a twin of another animal by using its DNA. But unfortunately, the one baby Bucardo that was born did not survive.

Cloning is one of the most advanced ways to try to bring back extinct species. And it's already been done with living ones. Most famously, with Dolly the sheep. She was the first animal to be cloned in 1996.

Scientists are trying to use cloning to bring back other extinct animals, like the Gastric Brooding Frog. Which basically burps out its babies.

For some extinct animals, where the scientists don't have very good DNA sources, they're trying to change the DNA of existing animals to make them more like those that have gone extinct.

This is what scientists are trying to do with the Passenger Pigeon. At one time in history, these birds were so abundant in America that hunters used to trap thousands at a time. They were a major source of food. But too much hunting lead to their extinction.

In 1914, the last living passenger pigeon, named Martha, died in the Cincinnati zoo. Scientists think that maybe by taking the fragments of DNA that they have from these pigeons and mixing it with those of modern-day birds, that they might be able to bring back a bird very similar to passenger pigeons.

This is a same idea they're trying to do with the wooly mammoth. Essentially a big, hairy elephant. And with the dodo, a funny looking big bird that couldn't even fly.

It's neat to think about what our world would be like if we were able to bring back these animals. But, in the meantime, it's important for us to take care of what we have. After all, you can't count your eggs before they hatch. Even if they are from a dodo or a passenger pigeon.

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