De-extinction: the opposite of extinction, the art or science of bringing back previously extinct species
The idea of bringing back extinct species such as non-avian dinosaurs (Jurassic Park) or more realistic Mammoths does trigger our imagination. And not that long ago it would be universally be denounced as pure fantasy. But due to advances in genetic engineering – cloning! – de-extinction has become a feasible possibility. Around the world there teams of scientists working on de-extinct species.
Since cloning an extinct species would require DNA of that species, most efforts are presently aimed at those of which we have good DNA samples: passenger pigeons, Tasmanian tigers and … mammoths. Though de-extinction is fascinating it is good to consider the ethics of the application of scientific knowledge.
Tori Herridge presents a case against cloning mammoths on the site of The Guardian. In short her argument is that in order to bring back the mammoth we need several female elephants to serve as surrogate mothers. And while elephants are on the edge of extinction themselves. She states that if we want to de-extinct animal species, we should consider those species which do not require surrogates, such as passenger pigeons, or those that could use more available surrogates.
In my opinion this is a very strong argument against cloning mammoths. Though I would remark that if we could figure out how to make a working artificial uterus, the issue of available surrogates would be moot. But even then we have to ask the question whether we should pursue this enterprise. After all where to go with all those newly de-extinct species, without harming current species? This would, of course, be a lesser concern for species which have become extinct recently.