March 09, 2010
DNA Extracted From Fossil Elephant Bird Eggs

DNA extracted from fossil eggs thousands of years old might allow eventually resurrection of extinct species.

An international team isolated the delicate DNA molecules of species including the massive "elephant birds" of the genus Aepyorni.

The Proceedings of the Royal Society B research demonstrated the approach also on emu, ducks and the extinct moa.

Some of the extinct species were wiped out by humans. Should we bring them back?

In one case 19,000 year old DNA was isolated.

They said: "We show that genetic material is preserved in the eggshell matrix and have successfully imaged the DNA via microscopy.

"Using new techniques we obtain DNA signatures from a variety of fossil eggshells, including the extinct moa and elephant birds and 19,000 year-old old emu."

It isn't clear what the quality is of this DNA. But sequencing of lots of poor quality DNA samples of the same species might allow reconstruction of sequence of sufficient quality as to allow bringing back such a species to life.

I'm less worried about bringing back really large species since they can easily be hunted down and killed if they cause unexpected problems. But restored small species are much more problematic if they live in ways that make them hard to track and kill. A 3 meter high elephant bird that eats vegetation isn't going to get out of control.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 March 09 11:53 PM  Bioethics Reproduction

Faruq said at March 10, 2010 3:12 AM:

but if they do bring back smaller species,which are more troublesome to control,they can put a backdoor into the DNA to maybe limit their reproductive rate?

LoboSolo said at March 10, 2010 8:01 AM:


And let's create a zoo so that people can see them ... we'll call it ... ta daa ... Jurassic Park!

Faruq said at March 10, 2010 8:50 AM:

jursassic park! that's so funny and original1 You should get a job coming up with titles for hollywood movies...!

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