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Extinction and Radiation of Life

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Pleistocene Park
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Pleistocene Park

Credit: Charles R. Knight
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Woolly_mammoths.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Would you like to see a living specimen of a woolly mammoth? Someday soon, you may be able to!

Amazing But True!

  • Scientists say that 99.9% of all species that once lived are now extinct. Among them are the dinosaurs and the giant mammals that lived during the ice ages. These megafauna capture our imaginations. What were they like? What if they could come back? The extremely popular science fiction film Jurassic Park is based on this idea. The film (and book) features a park that holds living clones of extinct dinosaurs. But de-extinction, as it is called, is no longer just science fiction. Scientists are getting closer to being able to bring extinct animals back to life. Just imagine the woolly mammoths at Pleistocene Park!
  • Humans have caused many species extinctions and will certainly cause many more. Even more animals went extinct before humans even came on the scene. Even if we can bring back extinct animals, there is still another question that needs to be asked: Should we?
  • Check out Hendrik Poinar's TED talk, "Bring back the wolly mammoth!": 

Explore More

With the links below, learn more about de-extinction. Then answer the following questions.

  1. Why are woolly mammoths among the species being considered for de-extinction?
  2. What sort of genetic material do scientists need to recreate an extinct species?
  3. How can an extinct animal baby be born? What are scientists proposing for a baby woolly mammoth?
  4. Once an extinct organism is alive, what else does it need to survive?
  5. Some day humans will be able to bring back extinct animals. Should we?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Charles R. Knight; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Woolly_mammoths.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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